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Wyss Podcast

Researchers at the Wyss Institute use Nature's design principles to develop bioinspired materials and devices that will transform medicine and create a more sustainable world. In this podcast series, Terrence McNally speaks directly with Institute researchers, exploring what motivates them and how they envision our future as might be impacted by their disruptive technologies.

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Latest Episode

Disruptive: Mechanotherapeutics (ep.9):

Mechanobiology reveals insights into how the body’s physical forces and mechanics impact development, physiological health, and prevention and treatment of disease. The emerging field of Mechanotherapeutics leverages these insights towards the development of new types of pharmaceuticals, drug delivery systems, engineered tissues, and wearable therapeutic devices that leverage physical forces or target mechanical signaling pathways as a core part of their mechanism of action.

In this episode of Disruptive, Wyss Core Faculty members Don Ingber, Dave Mooney, and Conor Walsh discuss the latest directions in Mechanotherapeutics. Along with leading researchers from around the globe, representing diverse disciplines, Ingber, Mooney, and Walsh presented at the Wyss Institute's 7th annual symposium. Speakers provided numerous examples of how mechanics are being harnessed in ways that can transform the future of medicine – from drugs to wearables.

Read transcript here...


Previous Episodes


Disruptive: Fluorescent In Situ Sequencing (ep.8):

Developed at the Wyss, FISSEQ (fluorescent in situ sequencing) is a spatial gene sequencing technology that reads and visualizes the three-dimensional coordinates of RNA and mRNAs – the working copies of genes – within whole cells and tissues. FISSEQ affords insights into biological complexity that until now have not been possible. In this episode of Disruptive, Wyss Core Faculty member George Church, Wyss Senior Staff Scientist Rich Terry, and former Wyss Entrepreneur-in-Residence Shawn Marcell discuss FISSEQ's development and translational potential, which could be used to advance the development of diagnostics and discovery of new drug targets.

Read transcript here...


Disruptive: Putting Biofilms to Work (ep.7):

Biofilms are commonly known as the slime-producing bacterial communities sitting on stones in streams, dirty pipes and drains, or dental plaque. However, Wyss Core Faculty member Neel Joshi is putting to work the very properties that make biofilms effective nuisances or threats in our daily lives. In this episode of Disruptive, Joshi and postdoctoral fellow Anna Duraj-Thatte discuss the development of a novel protein engineering system called BIND, Biofilm-Integrated Nanofiber Display, which uses biofilms to help clean up polluted rivers, manufacture pharmaceutical products, and fabricate new textiles.


Disruptive: Rapid, Low Cost Detection of Zika & Future Pandemics (ep.6):

The rapid emergence of the Zika virus on the world stage calls for a detection system that is just as quick. In this episode of Disruptive, Wyss Core Faculty member and MIT professor Jim Collins and University of Toronto Assistant Professor Keith Pardee discuss how they developed a low cost, paper-based diagnostic platform that can rapidly detect the Zika virus. The full team, comprising of researchers from several institutions, also developed a workflow that will enable them to use this same platform to respond to future pandemics. In response to an emerging outbreak, a custom tailored diagnostic system could potentially be ready for use in the field within one week.


Disruptive: Molecular Robotics (ep.5):

In this episode of Disruptive, Wyss faculty members William Shih, Wesley Wong, and Peng Yin discuss what it is like being on the frontier of science, and the potential applications of their DNA-programming work.

We have taken our understanding of DNA to another level, beginning to take advantage of some of DNA’s properties that have served nature so well, but in ways nature itself may have never pursued. Humans can now use DNA as a medium for nano-scale engineering. The resulting newly programmed and built DNA structures can enhance our ability to see and study molecular interactions and the inner-life of cells. As these structures become increasingly complex and versatile, they have the potential to spawn entirely new and revolutionary technologies for biological monitoring, therapeutic delivery, and applications scientists have not even thought of yet.


Disruptive: Cancer Vaccine & Hydrogel Drug Delivery (ep.4):

In this episode of Disruptive, Wyss Founding Core Faculty Member Dave Mooney discusses programmable nanomaterials approaches to fighting disease. Mooney explains how a cancer vaccine, developed by his team and currently in a clinical trial at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, can train one’s own immune system to target specific cancer cells. He also describes the development of novel hydrogels that find application in drug delivery systems and tissue regeneration. Chris Gemmiti, a member of the Wyss Institute’s Business Development team, joins the conversation to discuss the Wyss process of translation and what is involved in bringing the hydrogel drug delivery technology from bench-to-bedside.


Disruptive: Confronting Sepsis (ep.3):

In this episode of Disruptive, Wyss Institute Founding Director Don Ingber and Senior Staff Scientist Mike Super discuss how their team developed a new therapeutic device inspired by the human spleen. This blood-cleansing approach can remove sepsis-causing pathogens from circulating blood without ever needing to know their identity. In animal studies, treatment with this device reduced the number of targeted pathogens and toxins circulating in the bloodstream by more than 99%. This device may radically transform the way sepsis is treated.

Read transcript here...


Disruptive: Bioinspired Robotics (ep.2):

Our bodies—and all living systems—accomplish tasks far more complex and dynamic than anything yet designed by humans. Many of the most advanced robots in use today are still far less sophisticated than ants that "self–organize" to build an ant hill, or termites that work together to build impressive, massive mounds in Africa. 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.

  • In part 1 of the Bioinspired Robotics episode, Wyss Founding Core Faculty Member Radhika Nagpal discusses swarm collectives, as well as the challenges faced by women in the engineering and computer science fields.

  • In part 2 of the Bioinspired Robotics episode, Wyss Founding Core Faculty Member Robert Wood discusses new manufacturing techniques that are enabling popup and soft robots.

  • In part 3 of the Bioinspired Robotics episode, Wyss Core Faculty Member Conor Walsh discusses how a wearable robotic exosuit or soft robotic glove could assist people with mobility impairments, as well as how the goal to create real-world applications drives his research approach.


Disruptive: Synthetic Biology (ep. 1):

What sorts of breakthroughs are possible by modifying an organism’s genome – something researchers are now able to do ever more cheaply and efficiently? Researchers around the world are already able to program microbes to treat wastewater, generate electricity, manufacture jet fuel, create hemoglobin, and fabricate new drugs. What sounds like science fiction to most of us might be a reality in our lifetimes: the ability to build diagnostic tools that live within our bodies, or find ways to eradicate malaria from mosquito lines, or possibly even to make genetic improvements in humans that are passed down to future generations. Wyss Institute Founding Core Faculty Members Pam Silver and George Church discuss the high-impact benefits of their synthetic biology work, as well as how they prevent unintended consequences.


For more information about the Wyss Institute podcast, contact:
Seth Kroll,, +1 617-432-7758

We've won a Webby Award!

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