Honor is among the highest distinctions to be accorded in the field of engineering with Academy members taking on the roles of advisors to the federal government
(BOSTON) — The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has elected Wyss Founding Director Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D. in recognition of his “interdisciplinary contributions to mechanobiology and microsystems engineering, and leadership in biologically inspired engineering.” Ingber is one of 106 new members and 23 international members to join the NAE in 2021.
Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions that are accorded in the field of engineering, and only exceptional engineers and scientists who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice, or education are awarded this honor. But with the honor also comes responsibility: members of the NAE are assuming the role as advisors to the federal government on matters related to engineering and technology.
Since 2009, Ingber is the Founding Director of Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. “I am deeply touched by this honor and to find myself in the company of peers who have influenced the field of engineering and our world in such deep and impactful ways,” said Ingber who also is the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, and Professor of Bioengineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). He is also a member of the National Academy of Medicine – a counterpart of the NAE – and a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Ingber received his B.A., M.A., M.Phil., M.D., and Ph.D. from Yale University and is an early pioneer of the field of mechanobiology. In the field’s infancy, Ingber was one of the first to recognize the fundamental importance of physical forces as bioregulators. He connected the structural principle of tensegrity to cellular architecture, which led to the discovery of integrins as mechanoreceptors and myriad mechanisms of cellular mechanotransduction. His insights into the ways the extracellular matrix and the physical forces it conveys to cells anchored to it contribute to cell physiology, tissue morphogenesis, organ development, and diseases such as cancer have impacted numerous fields of science, medicine, and surgery.
Ingber’s seminal discoveries into nature’s designs and his vision to leverage these types of insights to develop new engineering innovations led to the new field of Biologically Inspired Engineering and his founding of the Wyss Institute at Harvard that shares its name. With Ingber’s leadership, it has become recognized as the world’s leading research and translation institute focused on engineering. In addition to his work on mechanobiology, he has made major contributions to tissue engineering, systems biology, nanobiotechnology, tumor angiogenesis, and translational medicine. At the Institute, Ingber also put great emphasis in translating his innovations into commercial products and many are now either in clinical trials or currently being sold. Examples include Human Organs-on-Chips to replace animal testing, a dialysis-like therapeutic device for treatment of sepsis, and nasopharyngeal swabs and diagnostics for patients with COVID-19. His work has resulted in more than 500 publications and 165 patents, 5 startup companies, and inclusion of his technologies in numerous museum collections and exhibitions around the world.
Ingber will be formally inducted during the NAE’s annual meeting on October 3, 2021. He will be accompanied by two other newly inducted members associated with the Wyss Institute: Francis J. Doyle III, the Dean of SEAS and member of the Wyss Board of Directors, and Wyss Scientific Advisory Board member Peter Fratzl, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Germany.