Hansjörg Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

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Wyss Institute Newsletter

October 2010

From the Director

It has been exciting to watch our new Longwood site come to life over the past few months, to see new equipment arrive almost daily, and to notice the lab benches filling up with new staff members, one after another. It's hard to believe, but we have grown to more than 150 full-time staff members within only 18 months of having received our inaugural gift from Hansjorg Wyss, and we already have more than 400 other collaborating members of our community who regularly participate in activities at the Longwood site.

The juxtaposition of diverse research and development efforts from our multiple Enabling Technology Platforms is simply astounding. On the same floor, these efforts range from electrical engineering and gait control to microsystems engineering and synthetic biology. It has been tremendously gratifying to see the synergies that have emerged from throwing engineers, biologists, chemists, clinicians, physicists, and computer scientists into the mix in the center of the Longwood Medical Area. This cauldron of creativity is the source of our technology pipeline, and our Advanced Technology Team, which has grown to 20 staff members, all with extensive industrial experience, is beginning to help translate these technologies into new commercial products that can solve real-world problems and address pressing needs.

As a result of the enormous progress made by our faculty, staff, and students, we have been visited by numerous CEOs, CTOs, and senior executives from pharmaceutical, biotechnology, chemicals, and energy companies, and even footwear manufacturers. We hope to announce our first corporate alliances in the near future, and our successes on the basic research front continue to grow as quickly as ever, as can be seen below. Finally, we are only days away from completing renovations at our 60 Oxford Street site in Cambridge, and then we should see a new wave of growth as we fully integrate our efforts across the entire university. There is more to come, so stay tuned...

-- Don Ingber

Publications & Awards


Charity begins at the bacterial level

Nature coverJim Collins and his team report in Nature that development of resistance to antibiotics in bacteria occurs through cell-cell interactions: rare drug-resistant mutants activate protective mechanisms that improve the survival of the entire population.
Wyss news release | USA Today | ScienceDaily | E! Science News

$3.3 M funding to develop heart-lung micromachine

Lung on a chip The NIH and FDA have jointly awarded teams led by Don Ingber and Kit Parker in the Biomimetic Microsystems platform over $3 million to develop a "Heart-Lung Micromachine" to accelerate testing of drug safety and efficacy. More...

NIH Director's New Innovator Award

Peng Yin Peng Yin has won a Director's New Innovator Award from the NIH to support his synthetic biology research focused on engineering new types of bioimaging probes. More...

Water from a pumpkin

The Pumpkin David Edwards, Don Ingber, and undergraduate students from Harvard's Idea Translation Laboratory course collaborated with artist Francois Azambourg in an art-science exhibition on "Cellular Design" that resulted in engineering of edible bottles inspired by living cells at Le Laboratoire in Paris. Edwards and designer Mathieu Lehanneur also revealed The Pumpkin (shown here) at the exhibition: a new reusable water carrier that hangs from your shoulder and changes size to fit the volume of its contents. More...

Speeding up evolution

MAGEAs described in a recent Bloomberg article, there is great interest in the Multiplexed Automated Genome Engineering (MAGE) technology developed by George Church and members of his Biomaterials Evolution team. MAGE uses directed evolution to accelerate engineering of new microbial cell-based factories. The first prototype of a fully automated MAGE instrument was recently installed at the Wyss Institute.

Diagnostics from paper and tape

MicroPADSGeorge Whitesides and his team recently described a low-cost, paper-based diagnostic device that can be programmed by applying pressure at specific locations in Lab on a Chip. The new innovation complements our ongoing work in the Biomimetic Microsystems platform.

Knowing when to change: Reprogramming (my) life

Pam SilverIn this intriguingly titled article in the August issue of Nature Cell Biology, Pamela Silver's opening sentence provides much food for thought: "I begin every year by asking the new graduate students to recall why they became excited about science. What do they dream about?" As her article explains, by asking herself the same questions, Pam has fashioned a fulfilling career that embraces change and risk-taking.

Growth factor delivery in tissue engineering

David MooneyIn the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, David Mooney and colleagues discuss various issues and design strategies relevant to growth factor delivery in tissue engineering.

To live or die?

Image from Cell paperPamela Silver and her team searched through the entire human genome to find proteins that influence whether cells decide to live or die, as described in their recent Cell article.

Shedding new light on cell development

Image from Integrative Biology articleDon Ingber and colleagues discovered the first steps by which cells sense mechanical forces that are critical for control of tissue development. Their findings appear in Integrative Biology.

Junior Investigator Travel Award

Anna GrosbergAnna Grosberg, a postdoc in Kit Parker's lab, has won a Junior Investigator Travel Award from the Safety Pharmacology Society. She is one of just five people receiving this honor for 2010.




Hansjörg Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

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