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WashU med school team advances to Sweet 16 of STAT Madness

Guilak lab's team battling University of Texas Medical Branch

March 9, 2018

Matt Miller

Washington University School of Medicine has advanced to the Sweet 16 of the March Madness of biomedical science — STAT Madness, a 64-team competition to find 2017’s top innovations in science and medicine.

The School of Medicine’s team — one of two to make the initial cut — is led by Farshid Guilak, PhD, a professor of orthopedic surgery. His squad is facing University of Texas Medical Branch in what STAT Madness is calling the “Science 16.” Guilak groupies can vote for the WashU team up until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, March 15. The winner of each round is determined by popular vote, so as they used to say in politics, “Vote early, and vote often!”

In the first round, Team Guilak defeated researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the University of Massachusetts. In the second round, Guilak’s team knocked off Carnegie Mellon University School of Engineering.

His lab earned a spot in the bracket after his team rewired stem cells to produce an anti-inflammatory arthritis drug when the cells encounter inflammation. The eventual goal is to create a vaccine that targets inflammation in joints.

The other WashU team — co-led by Katherine N. Weilbaecher, MD, the Oliver M. Langenberg Distinguished Professor of the Science and Practice of Medicine, and Gregory M. Lanza, MD, PhD, the James R. Hornsby Family Professor of Biomedical Sciences — fell in a close first-round contest to Yale University and Yale School of Medicine.

To read more about the competition and sign up for STAT Madness alerts, see STAT’s writeup on the second annual battle. STAT is an online publication focused on medicine, health and scientific discovery.