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Karin Payne, Ph.D. and Tom Payne, Ph.D.

Assistant Professors, Gates Center


Drs. Karin and Tom Payne

Karin and Tom Payne, from Montreal and Chicago respectively, initially “joined forces” at the University of Pittsburgh as doctoral candidates in the Department of Bioengineering.  There, they were exposed to the exciting field of regenerative medicine and were involved in research using stem cells, gene therapy and biomaterials to engineer new tissues. Karin focused her doctoral and postdoctoral work on using stem cells for bone and cartilage tissue engineering and trained with basic scientists and orthopaedic surgeons who provided insight into potential clinical applications of stem cell-based treatment strategies. Tom used stem cells derived from muscle for cardiovascular repair, eventually continuing this research at a start-up biotechnology company in Pittsburgh. There, Tom was involved in the start-up of a new Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility to process autologous stem cells for use in various clinical trials of cell therapy, including treatments for urinary incontinence and heart failure.

Karin and Tom came to Colorado and Anschutz because they felt excellent opportunities were available in regenerative medicine. The Department of Orthopaedics was recruiting a faculty member to establish a research program that would investigate the use of stem cells for the development of novel treatment strategies for diseased or damaged musculoskeletal tissues—a perfect fit for Karin.  Another advantage entailed joining the Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology, which has faculty that are advancing the field of regenerative medicine through their cutting edge research in stem cell and developmental biology. Serendipity came into play as well, since the Center was also looking into creating a GMP facility that would facilitate the translation of academic research into the clinic. Being involved in the planning of the GMP facility was a role that was of great interest to Tom. Further, during the interview process, a few critical things became very clear to them both:

The quality of research taking place at Anschutz was outstanding, there was a definite sense of a strong collaborative environment, and there seemed to be many opportunities ahead. Also, every single person we met was exceptionally nice and welcoming. We strongly felt that this would be an excellent institution to further our careers and be a part of an outstanding scientific and medical community.

Relocated to Anschutz since July, Karin is directing the Regenerative Orthopaedics Laboratory in the Department of Orthopaedics where she is studying ways to optimize the ability of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells to become bone and cartilage forming cells. She will also be using induced pluripotent stem cell technology to reprogram adult cells such as those found in skin and bone marrow and then direct them towards bone or cartilage. Generating induced pluripotent stem cells from adult cells offers the unique opportunity to derive an abundant patient-specific stem cell source for tissue engineering applications, which is particularly attractive for older patients that often do not have optimal stem cells for repair. Karin is excited to collaborate with the clinical faculty within her department and with members of the Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Biology on these research efforts. Tom will be working on the planning and start-up of a facility that will support the manufacture of cell, protein and gene-based therapies under conditions that meet the standards of regulatory bodies and current good manufacturing practices. In addition, Tom is eager to work with investigators to help them translate their research discoveries into products for patients.

As new Denverites, Karin and Tom love living in the city and spending time in the sunny outdoors with their 2 year-old son.  They are looking forward to exploring Denver and its surroundings, especially during the upcoming ski season. They want to thank everyone involved at Anschutz for giving them these opportunities and for helping them make this westward move a smooth transition.