Finding a love of discovery at HST

Former NASA astronaut, HST grad Robert Satcher Jr. talks walking in space, orthopedic surgery.

A graduate of the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology (HST) program recently shared his experiences as a former US astronaut, crediting his time at HST and in Boston for fueling his “love of discovery and exploration.”

Robert L. Satcher Jr., who received his PhD in chemical engineering from MIT before earning an MD from Harvard Medical School (HMS), through the HST program, was the keynote speaker at the Spotlight on Medical Education event in September in Boston, hosted by the HMS Board of Fellows.

Robert Padera receives Donald O'Hara Faculty Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Presenting the award were HST MD/PhD students Nicole Gilette (left) and Kathryn Evans.

Physician Robert “Bobby” Padera, HST 030 Human Pathology assistant director, and HST MD and Medical Engineering and Medical Physics (MEMP) alumnus, was one of the recipients of the Donald O'Hara Faculty Prizes for Excellence in Teaching at the 2019 Daniel D. Federman Teaching Awards Ceremony held recently at the Harvard Medical School (HMS).

In addition to Bobby, Dr. Cecil "Pete" Coggins, director emeritus of the HST 110 Renal Pathophysiology course and a member of the HST MD Curriculum Sub Committee, received one of the Special Faculty Prizes for Sustained Excellence in Teaching.

HMS annually bestows teaching awards on its most outstanding teachers, who, through their excellence in teaching, will impact and influence the professional lives of students long after graduation. The awards presented at the teaching award celebration are the medical school’s most visible recognition of the teaching accomplishments of a highly select group of the school's leading medical educators, and reflect, in a small but tangible way, how much teachers are valued by their students and by the school itself.


HST MEMP Diversity Ambassadors reflect on recent MIT Bridge Builder Award


In 2017, five PhD students in the Medical Engineering and Medical Physics (MEMP) program at HST launched efforts to markedly expand the program’s outreach to students from underrepresented groups in the sciences, e.g. women, minorities, and students with disabilities.

Recognizing opportunities to adopt more inclusive practices across HST, Aditi Gupta, Lucy Hu, Christian Landeros, Erin Byrne Rousseau, and Claudia Elena Varela formed the HST MEMP Diversity Ambassadors.

Fifty-five students graduate as part of HST Class of 2019


On Friday, May 31, HST held its 2019 graduation ceremony and reception on the sixth floor of the MIT Media Lab. Fifty-five students received certificates following heartfelt remarks from Co-Director Wolfram Goessling, MD, PhD; Dean of Harvard Medical School George Q. Daley, MD, PhD; and Director of the Institute for Medical Engineering & Science (IMES), HST’s home at MIT, Elazer Edelman, MD, PhD.

MD Program graduate David Joseph (DJ) Bozym gave a delightful student address describing his time at HST in moments, from the edifying to the comical.

Families, guests, and faculty gathered to commemorate the students, many of whom will soon begin internships and residencies in hospitals throughout the country or continue careers in medical research.


2019 MIT Awards on May 13 to honor HST MEMP Student Diversity Ambassadors


The HST MEMP Student Diversity Ambassadors have won the 2019 MIT Bridge Builder Award, given to students and/or groups who have exhibited a solid commitment to celebrating the array of communities represented at MIT. Aditi Gupta, Lucy Hu, Christian Landeros, Erin Byrne Rousseau, and Claudia Elena Varela were recognized for their work collaborating with other student organizations, serving as mentors, and advancing the overall conversation surrounding inclusivity within and beyond HST.

The group will be honored at the 2019 MIT Awards Convocation ceremony on Monday, May 13 at 4:00pm in the Samberg Center (E52). Faculty, students, and staff are welcome to attend!

For more information and to see a complete list of awards, click here.

Songs of KwaZulu-Natal: Reflections from HST.434


By Sri Gowtham Thakku and Avilash Cramer

This past January, we traveled to South Africa as part of the IAP class HST.434: Evolution of an Epidemic. The class, taught by IMES Professor Bruce Walker and Dr. Howard Heller and offered to MIT undergraduates, examines the medical, scientific, public health and policy responses to a new disease, by focusing on the evolution of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. As two graduate students enrolled in HST’s Medical Engineering and Medical Physics (MEMP) PhD program, our official role in the class was as Teaching Assistants, but we ended up finding ourselves more as students – listening, absorbing and learning.

Leading up to the trip, we had two days of preparatory lectures and an extensive list of readings to complete, which most of us did on our long flights to Durban. While these were helpful in building a foundation of knowledge surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic, they were hardly preparation for all our interactions with the people we met — the young women living through the epidemic in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, the healthcare providers working to fight it, the researchers searching for a cure — their warmth, friendliness and boundless optimism couldn’t possibly be captured in a lecture or journal article.

Microbiome milkshakes: The story behind the study


By Thomas Gurry, Samuel Finlayson, Travis Hughes, and Travis Zack

In the spring of 2015, a couple of researchers at the recently launched MIT Center for Microbiome Informatics & Therapeutics (CMIT), including the Center’s co-director, Prof. Eric Alm, converged on a study design to better understand the impact of individual dietary micronutrients on gut microbiome composition.

The main difficulty we faced was finding a way to measure the effect of these micronutrients against a diet background that was identical in all study participants. After several iterations and discussions with nutritionists and other experts, we converged on using Ensure, a liquid nutritional meal replacement used in clinical contexts, as the sole source of nutrition during the study period. This would guarantee that the chemical composition of every participants’ diet was identical, and addressed one of the main concerns with previous microbiome-related diet studies.

Emery N. Brown, HST Co-Director, wins 2018 Dickson Prize in Science


Carnegie Mellon University announced Dec. 5 that Emery N. Brown, the Associate Director of the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, the Edward Hood Taplin Professor of Medical Engineering and Computational Neuroscience at MIT, the Warren M. Zapol Professor of Anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School and anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital has won the 2018 Dickson Prize in Science.

“Dr. Brown is one of the world’s leading physician-scientists,” Carnegie Mellon said in announcing the award.

Forbes 30 Under 30 lists HST alums Tyler Clites and Cheryl Cui


For their promising work in the life sciences, HST alums Tyler Clites '17 and Cheryl Cui '18 were two of Forbes magazine's 2019 30 Under 30 for healthcare. Congratulations Tyler and Cheryl!

Tyler Clites, 28

Postdoctoral associate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"I build human cyborgs," says MIT researcher Tyler Clites. In his doctoral work, he designed a way to make prosthetic limbs that communicate sensations of joint position and movement directly to the nervous system. This involves a new way of performing amputation surgery and a robotic control system. It has been tried in 12 patients.

Cheryl Cui, 28
Co-founder, Nest. Bio

In 2017 biomedical engineer Cheryl Cui founded Nest.Bio, a venture fund that has close to $100 million under management and invested in eight life science startups. Earlier this year she also launched Nest.Bio Labs, which is a Cambridge, Massachusetts office and lab hub that now houses 12 biotech companies.

Machine-learning system could aid critical decisions in sepsis care


Researchers at MIT and MGH, in a new paper first-authored by HST student Varesh Prasad and co-authored by Professor Thomas Heldt, unveil a model for predicting whether ER sepsis patients need life-saving, but potentially harmful, vasopressors. Read more in the MIT News story below.

By Rob Matheson, MIT News Office

Researchers from MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have developed a predictive model that could guide clinicians in deciding when to give potentially life-saving drugs to patients being treated for sepsis in the emergency room.

Sepsis is one of the most frequent causes of admission, and one of the most common causes of death, in the intensive care unit. But the vast majority of these patients first come in through the ER. Treatment usually begins with antibiotics and intravenous fluids, a couple liters at a time. If patients don’t respond well, they may go into septic shock, where their blood pressure drops dangerously low and organs fail. Then it’s often off to the ICU, where clinicians may reduce or stop the fluids and begin vasopressor medications such as norepinephrine and dopamine, to raise and maintain the patient’s blood pressure.