Spotlight

HST MEMP student, Lucas Cahill, selected as 2018 Broshy Fellowship runner-up

 

Lucas Cahill, a third year Medical Engineering and Medical Physics (MEMP) PhD student in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology (HST), has been selected as a runner-up for the 2018 Broshy Graduate Fellowship in Medical Engineering and Science. Lucas received $10,000 to support his project, Low cost, rapid evaluation of surgical margins in prostatectomy to reduce incontinence and impotence.

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in American men. Even though prostatectomies can effectively remove tumors, incontinence and impotence are common side effects. Under the supervision of MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Professor James Fujimoto, Lucas has developed high speed nonlinear microscopy (NLM) technology and tissue processing methods that enable intraoperative histologic evaluation of un-sectioned surgical tissue in minutes. NLM has several advantages over current intraoperative tissue evaluation techniques (such as frozen section analysis) including: 1) It is nondestructive, enabling subsequent gold-standard tissue processing techniques to be performed. 2) Large areas of tissue can be evaluated rapidly and in parallel, enabling improved sampling. 3) It is low cost, easy to use, and time and labor efficient. NLM has the potential to improve ease and speed of intraoperative evaluation of prostate tissue, which will help surgeons perform nerve sparing procedures that minimize post-operative incontinence and impotence, while also reducing the risk of compromised surgical and oncological outcomes from positive surgical margins.

Lucas developed this new research direction in the area of prostate cancer after working with some of Dr. Fujimoto’s collaborators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) on improving breast cancer surgery. Lucas independently assembled the collaborative team necessary for this project and developed the study design. Dr. Fujimoto praises Lucas as a careful and systematic researcher who demonstrates an exceptional degree of independence and innovation, stating “Lucas’s level of research skill, ability to independently develop new research concepts and to work effectively with clinical collaborators is outstanding.”

Lucas is very excited and grateful for the opportunity that the Broshy Fellowship award provides. He plans to use this award to support initial steps in the path to clinical integration and validation, which includes studies carried out in collaboration with researchers in the Department of Pathology and Division of Urology at BIDMC.

The Broshy Fellowship program, named for Eran Broshy, MIT alumnus and member of the MIT Corporation and IMES Visiting Committee, aims to support the research and education of an exceptional graduate student whose work focuses on a novel, interdisciplinary project that has a good likelihood of being translated into an innovative commercial product and/or service that positively impacts healthcare outcomes and cost.

This year’s runner-up receives a one-year $10,000 award to support tuition, stipend, and research costs. Requests for nominations for the 2019/2020 award year will be announced in early spring 2019.

MEMP PhD Student, Tyler Clites, received 2018 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize

 

Tyler Clites, a PhD candidate in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology, says his fascination with invention began when he was a child. Long before he discovered that an engineer was anything other than someone who drove a train, he remembers proudly proclaiming, “I want to be an inventor when I grow up!” Every summer throughout his childhood in rural Dunbarton, New Hampshire, he attended Camp Invention, where he learned to design and prototype original solutions to common problems. Some of his first inventions included an automated egg cracker and a remote-controlled submarine for retrieving items that fell into a pool. Inspired and excited by what he learned at this summer camp, he went on to start an informal “inventor’s club” at his elementary school.

After high school, Tyler began his undergraduate studies at Harvard University. Upon completing his freshman year, in what would prove to be a life-changing decision, he took a leave from school and embarked on a two-year religious mission to rural Brazil. There, working with many individuals who suffered from diabetes and post-stroke complications, he learned of the devastating impact that mobility limitations can have on a person’s quality of life. His missionary experience transformed his view of the world, and the values that he learned continue to play a driving role in his life. After returning to Harvard, he was determined to invent meaningful solutions to difficult problems in the field of rehabilitation and assistive robotics. He graduated from Harvard in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical and mechanical engineering.

Tyler maintains this inventive focus in his current PhD studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he most recently developed the Agonist-antagonist Myoneural Interface (AMI) system, a new surgical method to enable bi-directional communication between the human nervous system and external bionic devices. The AMI works to connect the brain to a prosthesis in a manner that more closely replicates the biological control experience. Since his sophomore year at Harvard, Tyler has also been working with the Biomechatronics group at the MIT Media Lab to improve technologies for physical rehabilitation and augmentation. His additional inventions include Pollex Grasp, an at-home wearable therapy device that improves and restores motor function and dexterity in the thumbs of persons with neurologically-caused hand disabilities; a neurally-controlled exoskeleton for a rabbit; and a robotic prosthesis for a goat. His portfolio of work earned him the 2018 $15,000 “Cure it!” Lemelson-MIT Student Prize.

Starting with his mission to Brazil, Tyler’s passion for teaching and mentorship has become a large part of his life. One of his most rewarding volunteer experiences has been to serve as a residential freshman proctor at Harvard College for the last three years. As a proctor, he works to build community among 33 first-year students as they acclimate to the challenges of being a student. For the last two years, he has served as the head Teaching Assistant for Human 2.0, a lecture series and project course at the MIT Media Lab that explores cutting-edge research in the space of human augmentation. Tyler also serves as a guest lecturer for various undergraduate courses at MIT and Harvard, mentors undergraduate researchers at MIT and surrounding schools, and dedicates time to working with several high school students who have reached out to him about school projects or research.

Tyler plans to continue inventing throughout his career. His long-term professional goals are to become a professor and a researcher, invent imminently-translatable solutions to long-standing clinical problems, and establish a research environment where inventiveness and mentorship are held in the highest esteem.

Read more

Remembering Dr. Irving M. London, Founding Director of the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program

 

It is with sorrow that we announce the death of Irving M. London, M.D., founding director of the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program.  Dr. London’s life and accomplishments were recently celebrated on the occasion of his approaching 100th birthday by the HST community. We are very grateful that we were able to honor him so recently and well; Dr. London expressed great pleasure in the festivities. 

Irving M. London was born in Malden, Massachusetts on July 24, 1918.  He graduated from Harvard College with a Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, in 1939; he simultaneously earned a second bachelor’s degree from the Hebrew College in Roxbury, Massachusetts.  Dr. London weighed attending law school versus medical school after graduation, eventually accepting the offer to Harvard Medical School.  His tenure at HMS instilled in him a love of research that spanned the rest of his career. 

Dr. London accepted an internship at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York after graduation.  His training was interrupted by World War II, where he served as a captain in the Medical Corps.  He was part of a research effort that showed the efficacy of chloroquine as an anti-malarial drug.  At the end of his military service, he was assigned to Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific to serve as the physician for the Congressional delegation to the atom bomb tests.

Dr. London returned to New York to resume his residency after the war.  After residency he took up a research fellowship in the department of biochemistry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.  He soon joined the faculty and embarked on a rich research, teaching and clinical tenure at Columbia.  In 1954, Dr. London became the founding chair of the department of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.  He served as professor and chair of the department, and directed medical services at the Bronx Municipal Hospital Center, until 1970.

In 1968 Dr. London was invited to serve as a consultant to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School to assist in the planning of a new program joining the two institutions.  He then devoted a sabbatical year to carrying out the initial program development, including garnering the support of the faculties of both MIT and HMS.  In 1970, he accepted the directorship of this new entity, the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology.  HST represents Dr. London’s commitment to the integration of medical education and university education, and integration of interdisciplinary biomedical research, education and medical practice.  Dr. London, who was professor of medicine at HMS and professor of biology at MIT, served as the director of HST until 1985.

Dr. London has received numerous awards and honors over the years for his groundbreaking work explaining the molecular regulation of hemoglobin synthesis at the level of gene transcription and translation into protein. The honors include: the Welch Fellowship in Internal Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences from 1949-1952, the Theobald Smith Award in Medical Sciences of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1953, the Commonwealth Fund Fellowship at Institut Pasteur from 1962-1963, election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1963, charter membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1970, and elected membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 1971. From 1982-2003, he served first on the board of directors and then on the Biosciences Advisory Committee of the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson.

Looking back over his career, Dr. London derived great satisfaction from having played a key role in the founding of three institutions known for their contributions to medical research, practice and education - Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and, of course, HST. His passion for HST never abated. He continued to teach and co-directed the HST.140, Molecular Medicine course, which he developed with Dr. Paul Gallop in 1979, as late as the fall of 2017.  Dr. London was present for most of HST’s major events, including the HST Forum, HST Dinner Seminars and HST Graduation.  There he shared his intellect, wit and warmth with the students, faculty, alumni and staff of HST. 

Dr. London was preceded in death by his wife Huguette.  He leaves his sons Robb and David, and Robb’s children Jacob and Danielle.

Dr. London was looking forward to HST’s 50th anniversary in 2020.  His pioneering work in creating a unique physician/scientist/engineer training program is his enduring legacy, and positions HST well for the next 50 years.

HST Professor, Martha Gray received 2018 Program Award for a Culture of Excellence in Mentoring

 

The IMPACT Program, a Health Sciences & Technology-HMS/MIT Program, is a recipient of the 2018 Program Award for a Culture of Excellence in Mentoring (PACEM) at Harvard Medical School.  IMPACT is housed in IMES and co-led by Martha Gray (MIT) and Deborah Burstein (BIDMC).  Emery Brown is a co-PI on the NIH grant that supports most of this effort, and many HST/IMES faculty have participated as mentors and advisors.  Harvard Medical School established PACEM to recognize the efforts of a department, division, office or program to foster innovation and sustainability in mentoring while building a culture of mentoring.  This new award provides an opportunity to learn from successful formal mentoring programs and allow others in the community to adopt model programs. 

Read more

Learn more about Program Award for Culture of Excellence in Mentoring

Learn more about IMPACT Program

MEMP PhD Student, Or Gadish, received 2018 Goodwin Medal Award

 

Each year, MIT awards the Goodwin Medal to a Graduate Teaching Assistant or Instructor (G) who has performed above and beyond the norm, and whose teaching efforts can truly be characterized as “conspicuously effective.” This award was established in memory of Harry Manley Goodwin, the first dean of the graduate school at MIT, through a gift from his widow, Mary B. Goodwin, and son, Richard H. Goodwin.

This year’s Goodwin Medal recipient is Or Gadish, a graduate student in HST’s Medical Engineering and Medical Physics (MEMP) PhD program. Or is highly deserving of this award for his dedication and hard work.

Over the years, Or has made major contributions to the teaching of three different classes:

·      HST.090: Cardiovascular Pathophysiology

·      6.022: Quantitative Systems Physiology

·      HST.500: Frontiers in Biomedical Engineering & Physics

Or has had deep involvement in course design and implementation, exhibiting boundless energy and enthusiasm for the subject matter. Students appreciate his ability to simplify seemingly complex questions, the respect and professionalism that he brings to every interaction, and his supreme personal commitment to teaching. His nominators also praised him for his genuine concern for students and his ability to tailor his teaching style to meet the diverse needs of students from various educational backgrounds.

His sincere dedication and infectious passion add richness to many students’ educational experience at MIT.

Congratulations to Or Gadish on this award.

Elazer Edelman named Director of Institute for Medical Engineering and Science

 

Elazer R. Edelman has been named the new Director of the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES), effective May 1.

The announcement was made today at a special meeting of the faculty for IMES and the Health Science and Technology (HST) program. “Elazer’s strengths as a researcher, a practitioner of medicine, an innovator, and an educator are a fantastic combination,” says Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of the School of Engineering.

The Thomas D. and Virginia W. Cabot Professor of Health Sciences at MIT, Edelman has been a core faculty member of IMES since its inception and a professor in the HST program since 1991. He is also the director of the Harvard-MIT Biomedical Engineering Center, director of the MIT Clinical Research Center, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a coronary care unit cardiologist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

MEMP PhD students, Lina Colucci and Katerina Mantzavinou winners of a Koch Image Award

Lina Colucci and Katerina Mantzavinou, MEMP PhD students in the Michael Cima lab, were selected as winners in the 8th annual Koch Image awards, for their image "Into the Fold: Using Origami to Beat Metastasized Cancer."

Photos from the March 8, 2018 awards exhibition are available here

Visit this image and other 2018 winners: on display in the Koch galleries (lobby of building 76). 

Read about the image: https://ki-galleries.mit.edu/2018/mantzavinou-5

 

Professor Lydia Bourouiba featured on NPR’s Science Friday

In a Science Friday short film, “Breakthrough: Connecting the Drops,” Professor Lydia Bourouiba shows how she designs tests to study infectious disease transmission. First aired in April 2017, the video is one of a six-part series “Breakthrough: Portraits of Women in Science,” which Science Friday is releasing at select theaters nationwide in March for Women’s History Month.

Link: to audio series

 

MEMP PhD student Nil Gural is first author on paper in Cell Host and Microbe

 

Human malaria parasites grown for the first time in dormant form

Image: Nil Gural
Story: Anne Trafton | MIT News Office

One of the biggest obstacles to eradicating malaria is a dormant form of the parasite that lurks in the livers of some patients. This dormant form is resistant to most antimalarial drugs and can reawaken months or years later, causing disease relapse.

Malaria researchers know little about the biology of these dormant parasites, so it has been difficult to develop drugs that target them. In an advance that could help scientist discover new drugs, MIT researchers have shown they can grow the dormant parasite in engineered human liver tissue for several weeks, allowing them to closely study how the parasite becomes dormant, what vulnerabilities it may have, and how it springs back to life.

After verifying that they had successfully cultivated the dormant form of the parasite, the researchers showed that they could also sequence its RNA and test its response to known and novel antimalarial drugs — both important steps toward finding ways to eradicate the disease.

HST faculty member Ellen Roche featured in "Understanding and Treating Disease"

photo: John Reidah
story by: Mary Beth O'Leary 

Excerpt, read full story here

Treating Disease

Armed with more knowledge of how diseases grow and spread, researchers are better able to develop new ways to treat, and in some cases cure, disease. Among them is Assistant Professor Ellen Roche, who is taking a unique dual approach to treating heart disease using both mechanical and biological therapies.

“The idea is to mechanically assist the heart,” says Roche, who also serves as Helmholtz Career Development Professor at MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science. “Rather than take over its function we just assist and augment it using a biomimetic approach.”

Roche uses new techniques like soft robotics to develop devices that mimic both the tissue properties and the motion of the heart. One such device is a sleeve that wraps around the heart to assist with pumping. Soft robots like this sleeve use elastomeric materials and fluidic actuation to mimic an organ’s movement. “By smartly designing simple fluidics channels and reinforcing soft materials in just the right way, you can achieve very complex motion with just elastomeric changes, and pressurized air or water,” says Roche.

Pages