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Two Wyss Institute core faculty named 2015 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine

Naming them Global Thinkers in the "Healers" category, Foreign Policy honors Donald Ingber and George Church for their "quest to protect and improve the worlds health"

(BOSTON) — Wyss Institute Core Faculty Members Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., and George Church, Ph.D., have been selected as two of Foreign Policys 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2015. Honorees were selected internationally for their efforts to impact the world through transformative ideas and actions.

Donald Ingber, named one of Foreign Policy magazine’s Leading Global Thinkers of 2015, has developed many novel technologies over the course of his career, including human organs-on-chips, which have the potential to deliver transformative changes to human health, drug discovery, drug testing, and personalized medicine due to their accurate ability to emulate human-level organ functions. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

“I am honored to be recognized by Foreign Policy for my contributions relating to the development of human organs-on-chips, which we believe have the potential to both significantly reduce animal testing and increase the success of new drugs in the clinic,” said Ingber. “Its also an enormous pleasure to be honored at the same time as George Church who is another core faculty member doing transformative work here at the Wyss Institute.”

In addition to being the Founding Director and a Core Faculty Member of the Wyss Institute, Ingber is the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Professor of Bioengineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). In addition to being a Wyss Core Faculty Member, Church is the Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and MIT.

Ingber, a cell biologist and bioengineer and a founder of the emerging field of biologically inspired engineering, is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and most recently a member of the National Academy of Inventors. Over the course of his career, he has led innovation at the frontiers of numerous disciplines including mechanobiology, tissue engineering, nanobiotechnology, and translational medicine, and has founded four companies to commercialize his technologies. Two of those companies have spun out of the Wyss Institute’s Biomimetic Microsystems Platform, where Ingber has led the development of human organs-on-chips and a sepsis therapeutic device, which are now being commercialized by Emulate, Inc., and Opsonix, Inc., respectively. He has authored more than 400 scientific papers and 130 patents.

George Church, named one of Foreign Policy magazine’s Leading Global Thinkers of 2015, recently used a gene editing system called CRISPR-Cas9 to make 62 edits to the pig genome to remove latent retroviruses, presenting a solution to one of the largest safety concerns that has so far blocked progress in making pig organs compatible for xenotransplant in humans.This artistic rendering shows pig chromosomes (background) which reside in the nucleus of pig cells and contain a single strand of RNA, and the Cas9 protein targeting DNA (foreground). The CRISPR_Cas9 gene editing system works like molecular scissors to precisely edit genes of interest. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

Church, a geneticist, synthetic biologist and molecular engineer is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. He leads the Wyss Institutes Synthetic Biology platform, and he directs PersonalGenomes.org, which is the worlds only open-access library of human genomic, environmental and genetic trait data. Over the course of his career, he has invented the first methods for direct genome sequencing, molecular multiplexing and barcoding, and his scientific contributions have aided most “next generation” genome sequencing methods and companies. His technological innovations have led to dozens of startup companies and licensing agreements. In 2012 he authored the book “Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves”. He has authored more than 400 scientific papers and 74 patents.

“This recognition by Foreign Policy magazine will hopefully help engage a broader set of citizens in the role new molecular technologies (such as next generation sequencing and genome editing) could play in ecosystem conservation and diversity, as well as in the potential use of gene drives to eliminate malaria, Lyme disease and invasive species of concern globally,” said Church. “Increasingly today, business and governmental decisions are influenced by a biotechnological component.”

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