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Technology Spotlights

Spotlight: Robobees take to the sky and the sea

 

 

 

The first-ever aerial-aquatic robot is an adaptation of the "Robobee" developed at the Wyss Institute, a microrobot smaller than a paperclip that flies and hovers like an insect and can now swim underwater. Read more...

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2016

implantable devices

Making implantable medical devices safer and longer lasting [April 13, 2016] Blood-contacting implantable medical devices are prone to failure due to the body’s responses at the blood-material interface, but a new biochemical method developed by Wyss Associate Faculty member Elliot Chaikof, M.D., Ph.D., uses an enzyme to combat these effects, making devices safer and longer lasting… 

 

antibiotic

Seeking new strategies for improving antibiotic efficacy [March 21, 2016] A team led by Wyss Core Faculty member James Collins has uncovered within bacteria's epigenomes a potential new therapeutic target that could weaken pathogens' defenses against drug treatment…

 

 

90 degrees

Self-actuating materials [March 14, 2016] New research by Wyss Senior Staff Scientist James Weaver and collaborators has resulted in novel 3D structures that transform into prescribed shapes and sizes…

 

 

90 degrees

Pulling water from thin air [February 24, 2016] A team led by Wyss Core Faculty member Joanna Aizenberg has drawn inspiration from desert-dwelling organisms to design technology that can capture and transport water…

 

2015

diatom

Tapping the marine microbiome [December 22, 2015] A new grant award from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Marine Microbiology Initiative, Wyss Core Faculty member Pamela Silver, Ph.D., and Wyss graduate researcher Jernej Turnsek will investigate which genes are responsible for marine-dwelling diatoms’ ability to produce silica, in hopes that their metabolic processes might one day be harnessed for sustainable production of valuable commodities...

 

popup

Sensors give a helping hand to flexible surgical robots [November 10, 2015] Recent research from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University explores a new method to build low-cost, millimeter-scale force sensors…

 

slips

New SLIPS-enhanced steel is supremely durable [October 21, 2015] A new surface coating developed by Wyss Core Faculty member Joanna Aizenberg renders steel more resistant to fouling and corrosion than ever before, making it an attractive material for many potential applications…

 

AERobot

Wyss ‘open source’ education robot makes market debut [October 2, 2015] AERobot, the Affordable Education Robot system and curriculum for introductory programming and robotics education is now available from Seeed Studio, a company that works with global distributors and partners to facilitate the open hardware movement. AERobot was developed by Wyss scientists Justin Werfel, Mike Rubenstein and Core Faculty member Radhika Nagpal....

 

bacteria colony

The age of humans controlling microbes [September 24, 2015] Synthetic biology pioneer and Wyss Core Faculty member Pamela Silver believes that engineered bacteria cells could soon translate out of the lab to treat diseases, detect toxins, and sustainably produce chemical commodities...

 

SLIPS

Barnacles and mussels won’t stick to boats with this fully-slippery coating [September 22, 2015] The 'SLIPS' technology - a novel surface coating that repels almost all liquids and solids - developed at the Wyss Institute by Core Faculty member Joanna Aizenberg, Ph.D., will be used to combat marine fouling...

 

magnetic separation

Magnetic separation model could be key to blood diagnostics [September 21, 2015] Researchers at the Wyss have pioneered the approach of developing genetically engineered proteins that can bind to bacteria and other pathogens in the blood. By coating magnetic nanoparticles with these proteins, researchers can separate pathogens from blood and fluids using a magnetic field. Previously, optimal nanoparticle size had been determined by trial and error. Now, a team led by Founding Director Don Ingber has developed a theoretical model, published in Small, that predicts optimal particle size for magnetically separating bacteria from blood, which could lead to new diagnostic applications....

 

Jellyfish

Bloomy behavior: Jellyfish on the rise in our oceans [September 21, 2015] A new Le Laboratoire Cambridge exhibit supported by the Wyss Institute, “The Trouble with Jellyfish”, explores how opportunistic jellyfish blooms thrive in marine conditions degraded by human activities and industries…

 

Ary Goldberger

Translational Complexity [September 18, 2015] The open access journal, Entropy, is devoting an entire 2015 special issue to multiscale entropy (MSE), which is gaining many new applications in broad areas of medicine and biology. The underlying conceptual framework and methodology of MSE were developed and continue to be elaborated by Core Faculty member Ary Goldberger, with Wyss Affiliate Madalena Costa and colleagues. The method of MSE analysis is useful for investigating complexity in physiologic signals and other series that have correlations at multiple time scales…

 

aging

Aging and death may give an evolutionary advantage [September 10, 2015] Evolutionary theory has long held it impossible for there to be genes whose purpose is to limit how long we live, or to cause the familiar symptoms of deterioration with age — and it seems intuitively obvious that a gene contributing to the death or poor health of its owner ought to be opposed by natural selection. But now a new computer modeling study turns this idea on its head, showing that deliberate mortality can actually give an advantage in the long run.…

 

Termite mounds could inspire new ideas for sustainable building ventilation [August 31, 2015] Sustainable architecture of the future could be inspired by new insights into how termites construct their climate-controlled habitats. Wyss Institute Core Faculty member L. Mahadevan, Ph.D., led the new study - reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - in which his team precisely measured the air flow inside a termite mound...

 

A heartfelt mutation [August 28, 2015] In an effort to better understand heart failure, Wyss Associate Faculty member Chris Chen and colleagues set out to discover how one known kind of genetic mutation alters normal heart function. Using patient-derived stem cells, tissue engineering, and gene editing, the researchers found that the mutation interferes with the contractile function of the heart muscle, which can prevent it from responding properly to mechanical and other forms of stress. Published in Science, this finding suggests gene therapies that could potentially help address the genetic mutations contributing to heart failure...

 

elastomer

Eliminating entanglements [August 10, 2015] A team of polymer physicists and chemists led by Wyss Associate Faculty member David Weitz has developed a way to create an ultra-soft yet dry silicone rubber. This new rubber, reported on the cover of Advanced Materials, features tunable softness to match a variety of biological tissues, opening new opportunities in biomedical research and engineering…

 

exosuit

Bioinspired Robotics: Softer, Smarter, Safer [August 4, 2015] WATCH: The Bioinspired Robotics platform at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering looks into Nature to obtain insights for the development of new robotic components that are smarter, softer, and safer than conventional industrial robots…

 

disruptive podcast

Disruptive Episode 2: Bioinspired Robotics
[July 27, 2015] From insects in your backyard, to creatures in the sea, to what we see in the mirror, engineers and scientists at the Wyss Institute are drawing inspiration from nature to design whole new classes of smart swarm, soft, wearable and popup robotic devices. In this three part episode, Wyss Institute Core Faculty members Radhika Nagpal, Robert Wood and Conor Walsh discuss the high–impact benefits of their bioinspired robotic work, as well as what drove them to this cutting–edge field. Listen and subscribe on Soundcloud...

 

cancer cell

Future cancer therapeutics could coax tumor cells back to normal [July 14, 2015] In the future, the cells making up a solid cancer tumor might potentially be shifted back to a normal cell population by therapeutically influencing subtle factors like gene expression variability and physical cellular forces…

 

knotty objects

Preservation through design [July 17, 2015] At Knotty Objects, MIT Media Lab’s first summit on design, Wyss Core Faculty member George Church and Technology Development Fellow Kevin Esvelt spoke about the promising potential that biology has to address our planet’s environmental and ecological problems. Metabolic engineering and innovative organic design could one day be used to help stabilize the Earth's deteriorating atmosphere and biodiversity and preserve our planet for generations to come. Read more...

 

biofilm

Biofilms turned into enzymatic factories [July 13, 2015] A team at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering led by Core Faculty member Neel Joshi has added a new function to genetically engineered biofilms: the ability to incorporate enzymes. Enzymes are the molecular machines that perform the bulk of chemical reactions in all organisms, which means enzyme-coupled biofilms could become a new tool for drug makers, as well as important players in the cleanup of wastewater and contaminated soil...

 

mill

Energizing the Power of Evaporation [June 23, 2015] Scientists have struggled to harness the power of evaporation for purposes such as energy production or water conservation. But now, findings from the Wyss Institute about the mechanical properties of bacterial spores have contributed to new ideas about how these tiny spores could have a big impact on energy and water management…

 

Major advance for slippery surfaces
[June 22, 2015] Wyss Institute Core Faculty member Joanna Aizenberg and her team is paving the way towards designer polymers that are capable of self-relubrication and long-lasting anti-fouling behavior. Reported in Nature Materials, the system represents a major step forward in the design of self-healing materials, which could be used to improve drug delivery systems through enhanced targeting and controlled release...

 

Enhancing fetal and intensive care monitoring via "data chromatix"
[June 13, 2015] Analysis of biomedical time series, such as heart rate, plays an essential role in acute clinical management. A team led by Wyss Core Faculty member Ary Goldberger has developed a novel colorization method to bring information, or "memory" of a physiologic system’s past behavior into the display window being viewed by bedside clinicians. Reported in Physiological Measurement, this new approach is intended to enhance medical situational awareness. Learn more...

 

Organs-on-Chips return to the TEDx stage
[June 9, 2015] At TEDxPenn, former Wyss Institute postdoctoral fellow Dan Huh talks about how human organs-on-chips invented at the Wyss Institute may allow bioengineers to circumvent the long-standing economical and ethical challenges that revolve around the current model of drug development. Watch...

 

microdevice

The Future of Civilian Drones [May 28, 2015] A new article in Nature authored by Dario Floreano, Ph.D., who is director of NCCR Robotics and the Laboratory for Intelligent Systems at EPFL and a former Wyss Institute visiting scholar, and Robert Wood, Ph.D., who is a Wyss Core Faculty member and Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, discusses how drones might one day be fully capable of operating autonomously in complex, confined spaces and how legal requirements and regulations must be modified to allow for far-range civilian drone use...

 

microdevice

Springing into action: Wyss Institute introduces new biosafety process [May 6, 2015] The Wyss Institute is developing a proactive biosafety process to review all proposed biotechnology research and manage potential risks pre-emptively, thereby ensuring the appropriate controls are in place throughout all experiments. Intended for use now and in the future, the Institute’s working model is wide enough in scope to accommodate and prepare for future novel technologies. 

 

Introducing the Wyss podcast
[May 5, 2015] In the new Wyss podcast series, Disruptive, radio host Terrence McNally speaks with Institute researchers, exploring what motivates them and how they envision our future as it might be impacted by their disruptive technologies. In this inaugural episode, Wyss Core Faculty Pam Silver and George Church discuss the high-impact benefits of their synthetic biology work, as well as how they manage potential unintended consequences. Listen and subscribe on Soundcloud...

 

sea sponges

Deep sea sponges could inspire stronger structures [April 16, 2015] New insights into the skeletal formation of a glass sponge species, uncovered by Wyss Core Faculty member Joanna Aizenberg, reveal that the secret to strong, fracture-resistant structures could be a specialized, concentric layering of materials around a solid core....

 

football

Soft bracing technology could reduce NFL knee injuries [April 3, 2015] A promising effort to prevent knee injuries is underway by Wyss Core Faculty member Conor Walsh, Ph.D., who has been awarded a $150,000 pilot study grant from the Football Players Health Study at Harvard University to develop a prototype, protective knee brace constructed from soft materials. Walsh, who is also Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science and the founder of the Harvard Biodesign Lab, was recently recognized with a National Science Foundation CAREER award for his pioneering work in the field of soft wearable robotics and functional materials...

 

Diabetes Symposium

Innovative future of therapeutics highlighted at the first Wyss Annual Diabetes Symposium [April 1, 2015] Nearly 75 physicians, R&D scientists and biomedical engineers gathered on March 27, 2015, to attend the Wyss Institute’s inaugural Annual Diabetes Symposium. The one-day event was held to promote better understanding of the unmet management needs of Diabetic Lower Extremity (DLE) complications and to discuss the latest innovative therapeutic approaches currently under development...

 

A more efficient way to sort molecules from fluid mixtures [March 23, 2015] Employing an ingenious microfluidic design that combines chemical and mechanical properties, a team of Harvard scientists led by Wyss Institute Core Faculty member Joanna Aizenberg has demonstrated a new way of detecting and extracting biomolecules from fluid mixtures. The approach requires fewer steps, uses less energy, and achieves better performance than several techniques currently in use and could lead to better technologies for medical diagnostics and chemical purification...

 

Chitin

Environmental Impact: Redefining Our Understanding [March 20, 2015] A component of insect and shrimp exoskeletons, chitin, has long been a target of growth-inhibiting pesticides due to the belief that it did not exist in vertebrates. Now, research at the Wyss has helped discover chitin in fish and amphibians, calling the ecological and environmental impacts of chitin-inhibiting pesticides into question. Watch video...

 

Mollusk

Color-changing mollusk shell reveals secrets of natural optical structures [February 26, 2015] A materials research team co-led by Wyss Institute Core Faculty member Joanna Aizenberg has identified optical structures in a mollusk shell that could help develop translucent screens capable of displaying color patterns. The findings, reported in Nature Communications, represent the first evidence of an organism using mineralized structural components to produce optical displays...

 

Tooth research at the cutting edge [February 13, 2015] In a Perspective Article in Science, James C. Weaver from the Wyss Institute and Yael Politi from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces describe new research on sub-nanometer resolution 3D elemental mapping of mineral phases in vertebrate tooth enamel and the mechanical consequences of these discoveries...

 

SLIPS

'SLIPS' showcased on Capitol Hill [February 12, 2015] The 'SLIPS' technology - a novel surface coating that repels almost all liquids and solids – developed at the Wyss Institute by Core Faculty member Joanna Aizenberg, Ph.D., and her team was showcased at Energy Innovation on the Hill on February 12 in Washington, D.C....

 

Microcapsules

Protecting the atmosphere from powerful emissions [February 5, 2015] Described in Nature Communications, Wyss Core Faculty Member Jennifer Lewis and team have developed a breakthrough approach that uses the environmentally benign kitchen-grade baking soda to capture carbon at high rates...

 

We've won a Webby Award!

Wyss Institute is proud to announce our win in the 2012
Webby Awards in the Science category.