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Jennifer Lewis named 2014 Global Thinker by Foreign Policy magazine

Recognizing her groundbreaking advancements in bioprinting, Foreign Policy honors Lewis for the potential impact her research could have on global health and technology

Jennifer Lewis is a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Credit: Harvard’s Wyss Institute

(BOSTON) — Wyss Institute Core Faculty Member Jennifer Lewis, Sc.D., has been selected as one of Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2014 for her disruptive research in 3D bioprinting. Honorees were selected internationally for their efforts to impact the world through transformative ideas and actions.

“Her deep understanding of the physics and chemistry of materials has propelled Jennifer to the forefront of additive manufacturing, and now 3D bioprinting,” said Wyss Institute Founding Director Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D. “We are proud to have her as an integral member of the Wyss Core Faculty and to see that the importance of her work is being appreciated by the global community.”

Lewis, the Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, pioneered the microscale 3D printing of functional inks. While conventional 3D printing can create intricate structures from synthetic materials like plastic or metal by depositing materials layer by layer, functional inks enable the printing of novel devices such as 3D antennas, embedded sensors, and rechargeable microbatteries by building in layers or by weaving in-and-out of plane, much like a spider lays silk to create its web.

More recently, Lewis developed inks containing key ingredients of living tissues such as cells and extracellular matrix as well as fugitive inks for printing 3D tissue constructs with embedded vascular networks. Her team’s work has led to a major advance — in that tissues containing blood vessels and multiple cell types can now be assembled in architectures approaching the complexity of human tissues.

An event attended by Lewis today in Washington, D.C., will honor the 100 Global Thinkers and will feature a keynote presentation by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The Global Thinkers are selected by Foreign Policy’s editors for the measurable difference they have made this past year in politics, business, technology, the arts, and the sciences. Lewis and her work will be featured in Foreign Policy’s November issue alongside the profiles of other Global Thinkers.

“This is an incredibly exciting time in bioprinting specifically, and in additive manufacturing as a whole,” said Lewis. “I am honored to be recognized by Foreign Policy for our scientific efforts to push the boundaries of whats really possible in 3D printing.”

Moving forward, she is focusing on developing methods to print small sub-units of tissues, such as those responsible for kidney function.

The new 3D bioprinting method developed by Lewis and her team uses multiple print heads and customized biological “inks” to create complex living tissue constructs, complete with tiny blood vessels. Credit: Harvard’s Wyss Institute and SEAS

Earlier this month, Lewis was also named as a finalist in BostInno’s “50 on Fire in Medicine and Healthcare” annual awards. The winners will be announced December 4 at an awards ceremony in Boston.

Lewis earned her Sc.D. in Ceramic Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has received numerous distinctions, including the NSF Presidential Faculty Fellow Award, the Brunauer Award from the American Ceramic Society, the Langmuir Lecture Award from the American Chemical Society and the Materials Research Society Medal. She is a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society, the American Physical Society, the Materials Research Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has authored more than 130 papers, holds nine patents, and has recently founded a startup company focused on 3D printing.

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