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A road less traveled
Rice, Baylor M.D./Ph.D. student wins top biomedical engineering awards

By Shawn Hutchins

Jim Kretlow at BRCFew scholars have ventured down the path that leads to M.D. and Ph.D. degrees; especially to earn the advanced degrees simultaneously. From this road less traveled, Rice University alumnus Jim Kretlow has been selected for two prestigious awards for his outstanding research accomplishments in the fields of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

Kretlow, a former Ph.D. student of Professor Antonios Mikos, was chosen for the 2010 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Outstanding Student Award of the North American chapter of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS). He was selected based on a non-published manuscript, which will be a recognized feature in the journal Tissue Engineering as the result of the award.

Tissue Engineering is published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. and is widely considered the premier journal in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Kretlow is the first student selected for this inaugural award, which will be presented along with a $500 cash prize at the TERMIS North American Conference in Orlando, Florida, December 5-8, 2010. 

Earlier this summer, Kretlow was named the 2011 Richard R. Dickason, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., Outstanding Physician Scientist by Baylor College of Medicine (BCM). The BCM award, which includes a $1,000 prize, has been given annually since 2001 to an M.D. /Ph.D. student for excellence in academics, research, and citizenship. He is the first Rice graduate student to receive the top honor from BCM’s Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP).

Kretlow is the author of 23 peer-reviewed publications related to biomaterials and bone tissue engineering primarily to address post-traumatic craniofacial injuries. A large portion of this work has been performed and supported by the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM), and is related to ongoing efforts by Mikos, the Louis Calder Professor of  Bioengineering, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, director of the Center for Excellence in Tissue Engineering, and director of the J.W. Cox Laboratory for Biomedical Engineering; Kurt Kasper, a faculty fellow in bioengineering; and Mark Wong, chairman of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The AFIRM project aims to use biomaterials in combination with growth factors, antibiotics, and cells to better address the repair of combat injuries suffered during military service.

Other awards Kretlow has recently received include an MSTP Publication Award from BCM (2010), a Mary Frances Dunham Morse Graduate Fellowship from Rice’s Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering (2009), and the Rice University Outstanding Bioengineering Teaching Assistant Award (2008).

Kretlow graduated cum laude from Rice in 2003 with dual bachelor’s degrees in Bioengineering and in Mathematics. He earned his Ph.D. in Bioengineering this past May, and has returned to BCM to complete his medical studies.

The MSTP at BCM has been funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences for over 30 years. There are 88 students currently in the physician-scientist training program – making it one of the larger programs of its kind in the United States. Almost 190 students have graduated from the program with combined degrees; including 26 who received their Ph.D. in Bioengineering and other graduate programs at Rice.