Wyss Institute founding director, Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., receives 2011 Holst Medal

December 16, 2011

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University announced today that its Founding Director, Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., has received the 2011 Holst Medal in recognition of his pioneering work exploring the cellular mechanisms that contribute to mechanical control of tissue and organ development, and his groundbreaking development of bioinspired technologies, ranging from Organ-on-Chip replacements for animal studies, to new engineering approaches for whole organ engineering.

Ingber is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Bioengineering at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and a Senior Research Associate in the Vascular Biology Program at Children's Hospital Boston.

The prestigious annual award was presented today at the High Tech Campus Eindhoven in the Netherlands during a ceremony at the close of the 2011 Holst Symposium. This year's symposium, which focused on integrated heart repair, was organized by Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and Philips Research, a leading corporate research organization that helps introduce innovations that improve people's lives.

As the medal winner, Ingber also presented the 2011 Holst Memorial Lecture entitled "From Cellular Mechanotransduction to Organ Engineering." Starting with an exploration of the role that cell structure and mechanics play in controlling tissue and organ development, Ingber's lecture extended to provide a more comprehensive overview of his most recent innovations, including development of Organ-on-Chip microsystems technologies that recapitulate human organ functions, bioinspired materials that promote whole tooth organ formation, and injectable programmable nanotherapeutics that restore blood flow to occluded blood vessels.

The Holst award and lecture were established in 1977 to commemorate TU/e's 21st anniversary by honoring the important contributions of Dutch physicist Gilles Holst (1886-1968) to research and technology. Holst was the first director of the Philips Physics Laboratory in Eindhoven.

Holst Medal winners are among the most eminent researchers who have made major contributions in the natural sciences for the benefit of industry and society. They are selected by a committee chaired by the Rector Magnificus of the TU/e and the CEO of Philips Research. Previous recipients include several Nobel Laureates and scientific luminaries from around the world.

"Donald Ingber has made groundbreaking contributions to the understanding of the mechanobiology of cellular behavior," said Joep Huiskamp, Secretary of the Holst Memorial Lecture Award Committee 2011, on its behalf. "Ingber's recent development of a breathing Lung-on-a-Chip concept is an outstanding example of convergent technologies."

This year's Holst events were dedicated to the global health issue of heart disease, in recognition of its enormous emotional, medical, economical, and societal implications. The symposium brought together a few select leading international experts, including Wyss Institute core faculty member Kevin Kit Parker, Ph.D., to discuss key facets of heart disease, regeneration, and repair. Parker's lecture addressed the issue of heart failure and described the microengineered beating heart tissues developed in his laboratory.

Parker is also an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University and Director of the Disease Biophysics Group, whose research focuses on mechanotransduction in neural and cardiovascular systems.

At the Wyss Institute, Ingber and Parker co-lead a project funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health to combine their technologies to develop a "Heart-Lung Micromachine" that will replicate the complex physiological functions and mechanical microenvironment of a human breathing lung and beating heart.

Such capabilities will enable the device to provide accurate and immediate measures of the efficacy and safety of inhaled drugs, nanotherapeutics, and other medical products on integrated lung and heart function. The micromachine will also provide a model to study the effects that pollutants and nanoparticles have on the heart after having entered the body through the lung. As an alternative to traditional animal testing methods, the technology could greatly shorten the time required to bring drugs to patients, increase their efficacy, decrease their costs, and improve clinical outcomes.
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About the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University (http://wyss.harvard.edu) uses Nature's design principles to develop bioinspired materials and devices that will transform medicine and create a more sustainable world. Working as an alliance among Harvard's Schools of Medicine, Engineering, and Arts & Sciences, and in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Children's Hospital Boston, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and Boston University, the Institute crosses disciplinary and institutional barriers to engage in high-risk research that leads to transformative technological breakthroughs. By emulating Nature's principles for self-organizing and self-regulating, Wyss researchers are developing innovative new engineering solutions for healthcare, energy, architecture, robotics, and manufacturing. These technologies are translated into commercial products and therapies through collaborations with clinical investigators, corporate alliances, and new start-ups.

Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

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