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Frequently Asked Questions

We hope to answer the most common questions about our work. If you have more detailed questions and can't find an appropriate answer on our site, even by site search, do not hesitate to contact us.

In general, FIRM researchers are students and postgraduates conducting life science research as part of their requirements to earn their Bachelor of Science, Masters of Science, Doctor Med, Habilitation or PhD degrees. 

Regardless of your age and/or stage of your education there is always room at FIRM for curious, hard working students who are eager to learn about medical science. If you are interested in joining our program please email Professor Barker or Dr. Debs at their respective email addresses found on the FIRM website to set up a time for an interview.

Yes, the Frankfurt Initiative for Regenerative Medicine (FIRM) is an international research laboratory and we accept and encourage applications from all countries. If you are interested in learning more about joining our program please email Professor Barker or Dr. Debs at their respective email addresses found on the FIRM website.

Yes. Professor Barker and his colleagues at FIRM make regular presentations about their science at local elementary and high schools. If you would like to schedule a presentation please email Professor Barker or Dr. Debs at their respective email addresses found on the FIRM website.

Yes, we welcome all individuals/schools interested in learning about our science. If you would like to schedule a time to visit FIRM please email Professor Barker or Dr. Debs at their respective email addresses found on the FIRM website.

English and German. Most of the research, lectures, presentations and publications at the Frankfurt Initiative for Regenerative Medicine (FIRM) are conducted in English, however FIRM is an international research laboratory and therefore we welcome and encourage all languages to be spoken in our institute.

Yes. The official language at FIRM is English. However, FIRM is an international research laboratory and therefore we welcome and encourage all languages to be spoken in our institute.

The National Institutes of Health in the USA defines tissue engineering and regenerative medicine together as:

“An emerging multidisciplinary field involving biology, medicine, and engineering that is likely to revolutionize the ways we improve the health and quality of life for millions of people worldwide by restoring, maintaining, or enhancing tissue and organ function. In addition to having a therapeutic application, where the tissue is either grown in a patient or outside the patient and transplanted, tissue engineering can have diagnostic applications where the tissue is made in vitro and used for testing drug metabolism and uptake, toxicity, and pathogenicity. The foundation of tissue engineering/regenerative medicine for either therapeutic or diagnostic applications is the ability to exploit living cells in a variety of ways. Tissue engineering research includes the following areas:

i) Biomaterials: including novel biomaterials that are designed to direct the organization, growth, and differentiation of cells in the process of forming functional tissue by providing both physical and chemical cues.

ii) Cells: including enabling methodologies for the proliferation and differentiation of cells, acquiring the appropriate source of cells such as autologous cells, allogeneic cells, xenogeneic cells, stem cells, genetically engineered cells, and immunological manipulation.

iii) Biomolecules: including angiogenic factors, growth factors, differentiation factors and bone morphogenic proteins

iv) Engineering Design Aspects: including 2-d cell expansion, 3-d tissue growth, bioreactors, vascularization, cell and tissue storage and shipping (biological packaging).

v) Biomechanical Aspects of Design: including properties of native tissues, identification of minimum properties required of engineered tissues, mechanical signals regulating engineered tissues, and efficacy and safety of engineered tissues

vi) Informatics to support tissue engineering: gene and protein sequencing, gene expression analysis, protein expression and interaction analysis, quantitative cellular image analysis, quantitative tissue analysis, in silico tissue and cell modeling, digital tissue manufacturing, automated quality assurance systems, data mining tools, and clinical informatics interfaces.”

Hand transplantation, like organ transplantation, is a surgical procedure to transplant a hand(s) from a brain dead donor to a recipient.

Face Transplantation, like organ transplantation, is a surgical procedure to transplant facial tissues from a brain dead donor to a recipient.

Composite Tissue Allotransplantation or CTA is the transplantation of a block of several different types "a composite" of tissues (In contrast to solid organ transplant which is a single tissue). Allotransplantation refers to transplanting organs or tissues between a donor and recipient from the same species. Examples of CTA that have been transplanted in humans are hand, face, larynx, uterus, bone and joints and penis.

No. While FIRM is closely associated with the Frankfurt Microsurgery Course, doing research in FIRM does not necessarily mean you will be able to take the Microsurgery Course. That said, if your research in FIRM requires that you gain microsurgical skills you will be given the opportunity to take the course and you will be fitted in to the next available position. For more information about the Frankfurt Microsurgery Teaching Course please click here.

Dr. Barker founded and built the Plastic Surgery Research Laboratories at the University of Louisville between 1998 and 2010. In September, 2010 Dr Barker moved his laboratory and research to the J.W. Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany where he established the Frankfurt Initiative for Regenerative Medicine (FIRM) and continues to conduct research focused on developing better treatments for patients suffering with limb amputations and severe facial disfigurement. For more information on the establishment of FIRM please click here.

No. While we will soon begin a study in humans to test the effectiveness of a regenerative medicine treatment for large bone defects, this new treatment will still require a few more years of testing before it is made available as a standard treatment.