Anthony Atala, M.D., is among the world’s foremost researchers in the areas of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. As the director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Atala was behind the 2006 announcement of the first successful transplant to human recipients of organs grown in the lab: bladders that were transplanted to young patients beginning in 1999. His current work focuses on growing new human cells, tissues, and organs to repair or replace tissues or organs damaged by age, cancer, trauma, or abnormal development. He is working to replicate kidneys, pancreases, and other organs.

In an important finding in the field of stem-cell therapy, Atala and other researchers reported in January 2007 that they had found stem cells in amniotic fluid. This finding could potentially enable the use of stem cells without the controversial destruction of embryos.