DURHAM – Dr. Laura Niklason is returning in a full-time role to Humacyte, the company focusing on bioengineered human tissue that she founded 16 years ago, as its chief executive officer.

In doing so, Niklason is leaving Yale University where she is vice chair of anesthesiology.

Niklason replaces Dr. Jeffrey Lawson, who takes on a new role: chief surgical officer. Lawson had been CEO since 2018.

Humacyte announced the changes Friday morning.

“Jeff is an inspiring leader in the organization and our industry. The company is enriched by his enthusiasm, passion, and grit, and I look forward to continuing our decades of collaboration as he takes responsibility for expanding and accelerating our clinical applications and pathways,” Niklason said in the announcement.

“Humacyte has been my life’s work, and I look ahead with excitement and purpose at our potential to improve the lives of many patients. I’m grateful to our Board of Directors for the trust they’ve placed in me to lead the Humacyte team toward realizing the full extent of our revolutionary regenerative therapies.”

Niklason has been actively involved in the growth and development of Humacyte, including a lead role in the first human impalnt of a Humacyte developed human acellular vessel (HAV, a bioengineered replacement human blood vessel) in 2013.

In 2019, the company demonstrated that its human acellular vessels (HAVs) repopulate with a patient’s own cells to form a living vascular tissue.

Humacyte says Lawson will be “Humacyte’s primary interface with the global surgical community, including physicians and surgeons around the world.” He also will advocate for  “use of Humacyte’s HAV under Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Compassionate Use authorization of the product, and to assist with Phase III pivotal trials intended to support a Biologics License Application under the FDA’s Fast Track designation with Accelerated Approval and Priority Review.”

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