Turbocharging Medical Translation


Most medical researchers focus tightly on a narrow set of diseases or technologies. Jeff Karp looks instead across a broad smorgasbord of medical issues where innovative bioengineering can make a big difference in a relatively small amount of time.

“In my laboratory, we bring together people from diverse backgrounds,” says Karp, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and affiliate faculty at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. “We have chemical engineers, immunologists, basic biologists, materials scientists, polymer engineers and clinicians. We work very collaboratively, and we like to pick problems where there’s opportunity for translation in the near future.”

These multidisciplinary teams at the Karp Laboften turn to nature for inspiration. “Evolution is the best problem solver, with millions of years of research and development,” Karp remarks. “Every living thing is here today because it has solved an incredible number of challenges. We’ve tried to overcome challenges on translational projects by turning to creatures such as porcupines, parasitic worms, cactus needles, slugs, snails and spider webs. All of these examples in nature have provided insight that we would never have had by just staying inside of the lab.”

Friday, September 4, 2015