Hansjörg Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

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Wyss Institute Newsletter

April 2012

News Highlights


Trusting your gut(-on-a-chip)


Wyss researchers Hyun Jung Kim, Dan Huh, Geraldine Hamilton, and Founding Director Donald Ingber have created a gut-on-a-chip microdevice that simulates the structure, microenvironment, and peristalsis-like distortions of the human intestine and even supports the growth of living microbes. As a more accurate alternative to conventional cell culture and animal models, the device could provide new insights into intestinal disorders such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis and also evaluate the safety and efficacy of potential treatments. The research findings appear in Lab on a Chip. More...

Jim Collins elected to the Academy of Arts and Sciences

James J. Collins Wyss Core Faculty Member James J. Collins has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which honors some of the world's most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists, and civic, corporate, and philanthropic leaders. The induction ceremony will be held in the fall. More...

Wyss Website Nominated for Internet's Highest Honor

Webby Awards The Wyss website has been selected as one of five finalists for a Webby Award in the category of science. Nominees were selected by the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences from among nearly 10,000 entries, representing all 50 states and more than 60 countries. In addition to the Webby Award, a People's Voice Award will be announced. Help us win the People's Voice Award -- vote Wyss!

Robot building simplified

Printed Robot Core Faculty Member Rob Wood and Visiting Scholar Daniela Rus will play key roles in an ambitious new project designed to make customized robots -- and their myriad potential applications -- widely available. Funded by a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the new project seeks to develop a desktop technology that enables a person anywhere to design and produce a specialized robot in a matter of hours. More...

Technologies in the Pipeline


Genetic switchboard could program bacteria

Genetic switchboard Wyss Core faculty member James Collins and colleagues have developed a genetic switchboard that controls and links multiple biological circuits and pathways, much as an electronic circuit board controls and links electronic components and pathways. And just as the latter is used to program the behavior of a computer, so can the new tool be used to program the behavior of an organism. Such an advanced tool has enormous potential for programming bacteria to produce sugar, biofuels, and drugs. Their findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Robotic insects spring to life

Pop-up robot A new technique inspired by pop-up books and origami will someday allow rapid fabrication of clones of microrobots or virtually any other type of electromechanical device to be mass-produced by the sheet. The ingenious layering and folding process was devised by doctoral candidates Pratheev Sreetharan, J. Peter Whitney, and Wyss Core Faculty member Rob Wood, enables the rapid fabrication of microrobots and a broad range of electromechanical devices. The Monolithic Bee (shown here) is a robotic insect approximately the size of a U.S. quarter which pops up within a scaffold that performs more than 20 origami assembly folds. More...

A speedier approach to genetic engineering

MAGE device In a new article in Nature Methods, Technology Development Fellow Harris Wang and Core Faculty member George Church describe further advances in multiplex automated genome engineering (MAGE). Already one of the most effective ways of genetically changing a bacterium to, for example, produce drugs or biofuels, MAGE is limited to using short strands of DNA -- typically a few bases. The latest method can handle 20 bases at a time, making the process significantly faster.

Magnetic attraction

Magnetic yeast Magnetic fields are everywhere, but few organisms can sense them. Now, Keiji Nishida from Harvard Medical School and Wyss Core Faculty member Pam Silver have developed a method for inducing magnetic sensitivity in an organism that is not naturally magnetic -- yeast. The technology could potentially be used to magnetize a variety of different cell types so that they can be targeted, removed, isolated, or even traced in a number of industrial and medical settings. More...

Sugar Sweet new advance
(Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Feb 2012)

Out and About


Don Ingber Don Ingber on reversing cancer through engineering

DARPA event Wyss technology showcased at Energy Innovation Summit

George Church George Church on affordable genome sequencing

George Whitesides George Whitesides gives Feodor Lynen Lecture

In the Media


George Whitesides Why chemistry matters

Radhika Nagpal Robots: Self-organizing systems




Hansjörg Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

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