Kit Parker researches cardiac cell biology and tissue engineering, traumatic brain injury, and biological applications of micro- and nanotechnologies. Working in both Biomimetic Microsystems and Programmable Nanomaterials, he is involved in projects ranging from developing nanofabrics for applications in tissue regeneration to creating organs-on-chips to address pediatric diseases such as asthma, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, brain injury and congenital heart disease.
In the area of nanomaterials, Kit has been leading an effort to develop protein nanofabrics as a significant step forward in tissue regeneration. Current methods for regenerating tissue typically involve using synthetic polymers to create scaffolding. But this approach can cause negative side effects as the polymers degrade. By contrast, nanofabrics are made from the same proteins as normal tissue, and thus the body can degrade them with no ill effects once they are no longer needed. Initial results have produced strands of heart muscle similar to the papillary muscle, which may lead to new strategies for repair and regeneration throughout the heart.
Previously, Kit served as a member of the Defense Science Research Council, an advisory activity to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), for nearly a decade. He also served on the Defense Science Board Task Force on Autonomy, reviewing the entirety of the DoD’s research portfolio on unmanned systems. Kit is a Colonel in the United States Army Reserve and has served two combat tours in Afghanistan where he was awarded the Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal with V device, and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. He was also selected to serve on the Gray Team, a science advisory team assembled by the Joint Chiefs. As the operations officer of this team, he completed two additional missions to Afghanistan in 2011 to assess and report on issues pertaining to combat casualties and their care. He has served on active duty in the Science and Technology Directorate at Special Operations Command and in an advisory role to the White House National Security Staff. He has recently been named as a consultant to the Army Science Board.
Kit is the Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. At Harvard, Kit is the director of the multidisciplinary SEAS Disease Biophysics Group. In addition to the research described above, he has projects on topics as diverse as adaptive camouflage, lightweight body armor, fashion design, wound dressings, BBQ, and counterinsurgency. Parker also serves as a consultant to various companies in the pharmaceutical, medical device, defense, and cooking industries.