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A Year in Review: 2021

Looking back on the Wyss Institute's successes during a unique year

Despite spending the entire year in a global pandemic, the Wyss community remained as productive, inspiring, and resilient as ever. We continued our cutting-edge research developments, enabled commercialization of solutions to pressing global problems related to COVID-19 and other areas of human health and sustainability, and supported fellow members of our community through a year like no other. Join us in looking back on the highlights of 2021.

Commercialization Successes

A Year in Review: 2021
The co-founders of Imago Research, including Chris Morse (left) and former Wyss Institute members Kristin Nuckols (center) and Chrissy Glover (right), are working to integrate the soft robotic glove into a complete telehealth solution for patients recovering from stroke and other neurological conditions. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

At the Wyss, one of our core beliefs is that breakthrough discoveries can’t change the world if they don’t leave the lab. We use our unique model of technology translation within academia to develop and de-risk technologies until they are ready to be licensed to existing companies or Wyss-enabled startups. Together with the sheer volume of projects in our pipeline, our model ensures we have a positive, near-term positive impact on healthcare and the environment.

Wyss members are inventors on 167 issued patents this year. These patents will serve as the basis for future licensing agreements, which enable our innovations to make an impact out in the world.

This year, 14 Wyss-developed technologies were licensed through Harvard’s Office of Technology Development, including nine to new startups. These include Beacon Bio (since acquired by Desktop Health), which is developing a 3D-printed, biocompatible graft that could be implanted to repair eardrums; Pluto Biosciences, which is commercializing a digital platform to give life science researchers access to powerful data tools in a collaborative digital environment to help labs more quickly and efficiently manage, analyze, and share experiments; and Imago Rehab, a startup developing a soft robotic glove for stroke survivors to use for at-home rehabilitation.

Most Read Stories

In 2021, we published nearly 40 stories covering some of the extraordinary discoveries and scientific advances made by our researchers. Wyss community members authored over 160 papers in peer-reviewed journals, including four in Science and four in Nature. Our most read stories include the following:

Team builds first living robots ­– that can reproduce
AI-designed Xenobots reveal entirely new form of biological self-replication—promising for regenerative medicine
November 29 | PNAS

Move over CRISPR, the retrons are coming
New gene editing technique enables millions of genetic experiments to be performed simultaneously
April 30 | PNAS

Massage doesn’t just make muscles feel better, it makes them heal faster and stronger
Study confirms link between mechanotherapy and immunotherapy in muscle regeneration in mice
October 6 | Science Translational Medicine

Top Media Coverage

This past year, there was also extensive media coverage of Wyss Institute research and our community members.

Most recently, in December, Radhika Nagpal, a founding Wyss Faculty member was included in Newsweek’s list of “America’s Greatest Disruptors” for her work in swarm robotics.

Throughout the pandemic, Core Faculty member Jim Collins’ group has been working on different kinds of diagnostics. The team’s wearable diagnostic face masks and saliva-based test were covered in the Wall Street Journal, Daily Mail, and the BBC Science Focus Magazine.

And of course, Associate Faculty member Mike Levin’s Xenobots were covered by CNN, Forbes, and NPR…and jokekd about by Stephen Colbert in a Late Show segment.

Community Highlights

At the heart of the Wyss lies our diverse team of dedicated, passionate, and creative innovators. Scroll through the photos to see some of our community’s activities throughout the year.

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