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A Year in Review: 2023

Looking back on a year of exciting changes and technology advancements

By Jessica Leff

2023 was a year of growth and evolution for the Wyss community, with no change more significant than our move to 201 Brookline Avenue in the heart of Boston’s Fenway neighborhood. Now, we share a home with diverse organizations, from a hospital, to biotech companies (including two Wyss startups), to a venture capital firm. This ecosystem appropriately mirrors the one at the Wyss, where professionals across disciplines continue to innovate together, performing cutting-edge research and working to solve the grand challenges facing patients and our planet.  Join us as we recap some of the highlights of 2023.

Commercialization successes

A Year in Review: 2023
In January 2023, Wyss startup WurQ showcased a live demo at a CrossFit competition and then began running trials in local gyms. Credit: WurQ

At the Wyss, it is a core belief that breakthrough discoveries can’t change the world if they don’t leave the lab. Our unique model of technology translation within academia de-risks innovations to the point where they’re ready to be commercialized by existing companies or Wyss-enabled startups.

Wyss members are inventors on 167 patents this year. Patents are essential for safeguarding intellectual property, forming the foundation of successful licensing agreements and proving our researchers’ dedication to reimagining what’s possible with their pioneering inventions.

Twelve technologies developed at the Wyss were licensed through Harvard’s Office of Technology Development this year, including a gas-fermentation-based technology that uses engineering microbes to produce more sustainable food, wearables to quantify physical work for fitness and physical therapy, and an immune-material-based vaccine technology to create safe and effective therapeutics and prophylactic vaccines against viral and bacterial infections.

Our technology pipeline shows no signs of slowing down, with thirteen Validation Projects announced earlier this year. These projects receive dedicated funding, business development support, and additional resources to advance their innovations towards commercialization.

A Year in Review: 2023

Collaboration at a higher level

Collaboration is in the fabric of everything we do, so much so that our labs are referred to as “collaboratories,” and researchers work alongside colleagues from different faculty groups and areas of expertise. We forge partnerships across industries, academic institutions, and hospitals.

A Year in Review: 2023
The Lab-on-a-Molecule project team includes Wyss Core Faculty member Wesley Wong, Ph.D., Wyss Advanced Technology Team member Silvie Bernier, and researcher Andrew Ward (bottom row from left to right), as well as researchers Clinton Hansen, Ph.D., Mark Lipstein, and ATT member Ken Carlson, Ph.D. (top row from left to right) Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

In May, we announced that the Collaborative Fund committed $15 million to create a Laboratory for Sustainable Materials Research and Innovation at the Wyss. This alliance is focused on developing new, sustainable materials to fight climate change.

We have also continued our successful partnership with Northpond Labs. Their Laboratory for Bioengineering Research and Innovation has supported three translational technologies: enzymatic RNA synthesis for therapeutic and research applications, (which launched as the startup EnPlus One Biosciences in 2022), an in vivo screening platform for improving the delivery of therapeutic cells to their targets in the body (Project Somacode), and a nanoscale molecular screening technology to identify activators of protein-protein interactions for future drug development (the Lab-on-a-Molecule Project).

This year, we also launched the Women’s Health Catalyst, an internal consortium that seeks to connect Wyss scientists working in women’s health with each other and with external resources and collaborators.

Most-read stories

Over 60 stories covering cutting-edge research by our community members were published on our website this year. Wyss researchers authored 133 papers in peer-reviewed journals, including two in Science and four in Nature, along with 23 in other Nature journals and six in other Science journals. Our most-read news stories include the following:

Top media coverage

Multiple major news outlets featured the Wyss in 2023.

A Year in Review: 2023
This team behind the Wyss’ plastic degradation technology. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

Early in the year, researchers from the Wyss and Duke University, in collaboration with Gameto, created a living, fully human ovarian organoid. This work was covered by WBZ News and The Boston Globe. These “ovaroids” were licensed to Gameto, and have since been featured by WGBH and MIT Technology Review.

To address the plastic pollution crisis, researchers at the Wyss developed plastic-degrading super-microbes and enzymes. This innovative work was covered by The Washington Post and Harvard Magazine.

Most recently, “Anthrobots,” tiny biological robots created from adult human tracheal cells that can move across a surface and encourage the growth of neurons in a lab dish, captured the media’s attention. The work was featured in CNN, Interesting Engineering, and USA Today.

Keep going

A year ago, we began asking, “If you could Reimagine the World, what would it look like?” Now, we’ve shared more than a dozen heart-warming, people-focused stories from our community and beyond that inspire our work and encourage us to keep going.

Patients, clinicians, and family members of patients share how researchers are giving them hope for a better future. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

Community highlights

Our people are the heart of everything we accomplish at the Wyss. So, we would be remiss if we didn’t end our year in review by highlighting the incredible, passionate, courageous members of our community. Explore using the image carousel below.

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