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Don Ingber to Receive 2022 Award from Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science

Award is given annually to recognize achievements in the field of materials science and technology

Don Ingber to Receive 2022 Award from Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science
Founding Director Donald Ingber will receive the 2022 NIMS Award from The National Institute for Materials Science this year in Japan. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

(BOSTON) – Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering Founding Director and Core Faculty Member Don Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., has been named a recipient of the 2022 NIMS Award from The National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) in Japan.

Selected as one of three scientists to receive the award this year, NIMS will present the honor to those scientists who have demonstrated outstanding research achievements in the field of functional materials, specifically biomaterial research and science that has led to breakthroughs and innovative progress in healthcare and medical technology. Ingber is being recognized for his proposal of the cellular tensegrity model and the invention of human organ-on-a-chip technology.

Inspired by the similarity between biological cells and tensegrity architectures, the systems that stabilize their overall structure by balancing tensile and contractile forces through establishment of an internal prestress, Ingber showed the significant role that mechanical forces play in tissue and organ formation as well as cancer progression. Inspired by these insights and leveraging approaches from microchip manufacturing, Ingber created human organ-on-a-chip technology, which has proven to successfully recapitulate human organ-level functions and disease states in vitro, in addition to having impact in virtually all fields of biology and medicine.

In addition to pioneering the field of mechanobiology, his work has led to major advances in tumor angiogenesis, tissue engineering, systems biology, nanobiotechnology, point-of-care diagnostics, computer-assisted drug discovery, and translational medicine. Ingber’s vision also led to the founding of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University in 2009, where he has since served as its Director.

“I feel very honored to have been selected to receive this award. Understanding how tensegrity serves as a guiding principle that governs the structure of living cells, tissues, and organs has enabled my research and that of other researchers to mimic biology so that technologies, such as organ-on-chips, can be developed to investigate a range of diseases as well as discover new therapeutics. Given the highly skeptical response I received in my early days, it is truly gratifying to see this work be recognized and receive international attention,” said Ingber who is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Bioinspired Engineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The NIMS Award Ceremony will take place at the Tokyo International Forum on November 14, 2022 as part of NIMS WEEK 2022, which is an annual event hosted by The National Institute for Materials Science. Since 2007, the NIMS Award has been given to researchers around the world in recognition of their outstanding achievements in materials science and technology. This year’s recipients were selected by a selection committee comprised of staff members at NIMS and scientists from other organizations based on nominations from top scientists around the world in the area of functional materials.

Joining Ingber as 2022 NIMS honorees are Teruo Okano, an Emeritus Professor and Specially Appointed Consultant at Tokyo Women’s Medical University, and Distinguished Adjunct Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Director of Cell Sheet Tissue Engineering Center at the School of Medicine and College of Pharmacy at the University of Utah, and Kazuhiko Ishihara, Specially Appointed Professor of Graduate School of Engineering at Osaka University, and Emeritus Professor at The University of Tokyo in Japan.

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