In the News

Sangeeta Bhatia wins $250,000 Heinz Award

An innovative scientist who is developing simple, affordable cancer screening tools and applying the principles of microchip fabrication to develop artificial human “microlivers” was today named as a recipient of a coveted Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment. The Award was announced by the Heinz Family Foundation and includes an unrestricted cash award of $250,000. Sangeeta Bhatia, M.D., Ph.D., a professor within MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and the Institute for Medical Engineering & Science is one of six recipients of the 20th Heinz Awards. The accolades honor the memory of the late U.S. Senator John Heinz by recognizing those who have made outstanding contributions in one of five critically important categories: Arts and Humanities; Environment; Human Condition; Public Policy; and Technology, the Economy and Employment. more...

A metabolic vulnerability in glioblastoma

Funded in part through the KI Frontier Research Program, KI members David Sabatini, a professor of biology, and Matthew Vander Heiden, the Eisen and Chang Career Development Professor and an associate professor of biology, have identified a vulnerability in glioblastoma that could offer a new target for treating these brain tumors. Certain glioblastoma cells depend on the enzyme GLDC to break down the amino acid glycine. The researchers found that when GLDC is blocked in these cells, glycine enters a different metabolic pathway, producing toxic byproducts that build up and ultimately kill the tumor cells. The researchers are now seeking GLDC-blocking compounds that could exploit this vulnerability to treat glioblastoma. more...

Steven Keating

Open data opens minds

As access to data about his brain ultimately led to the detection and removal of a baseball-sized tumor last August, Steven Keating knows firsthand how powerful health data can be. Keating, an MIT graduate student, has open sourced much of his own health data on his personal website with the hope that it may help researchers and patients better understand cancer. His inspiring story, which blends equal parts curiosity and positivity, has been shared in MIT NewsThe New York Times, and BetaBoston, and he has given several talks on campus, including two at the KI. more...

Nano-networked drug delivery

Researchers in the lab of KI faculty member Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, have designed an injectable nano-network that can release drugs, including chemotherapeutics, over a prescribed period of time. The mesh-like network can flow through a needle and rapidly reform into an intact gel inside the body, allowing for a great deal of flexibility in delivering drugs to specific tissues—including those that are hard to reach. The researchers are also studying how this technology can attract, sequester, and kill metastatic tumor cells. This research was funded in part through a postdoctoral fellowship through the S. Leslie Misrock (1949) Frontier Research Fund for Cancer Nanotechnology. more...

Susan Hockfield

Converging on world challenges

January’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, explored some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Susan Hockfield, MIT president emerita, KI faculty member, and chair of the WEF’s Foundation Board, says that the convergence of scientific disciplines is the path forward for addressing many of them. With an estimated nine billion people projected to occupy the globe by 2050, Hockfield writes that “an accelerating convergence of the biological, physical, and engineering sciences promises a stunning array of new technological solutions,” citing KI faculty member Sangeeta Bhatia’s inexpensive, paper-strip urine test for cancer as one example. more...

Daniel Anderson

Special delivery

Although KI faculty member Daniel Anderson once considered going into business school or industry after completing his Ph.D. in molecular genetics, he instead was drawn to a postdoctoral position in David H. Koch Institute Professor Robert Langer’s laboratory to study drug delivery. Ever since, he’s been on the cutting edge of developing new biomaterials and delivery methods. After completing his postdoc, he continued to work with Langer’s lab for about a decade before joining the KI faculty in 2010. Now, Anderson and his own lab have developed new systems for nanoparticle drug delivery, non-viral gene therapy, siRNA delivery, and vaccines to treat cancer and other diseases. To ensure a direct impact on human health, Anderson has also founded several companies to catalyze the bench-to-bedside pipeline and bring his discoveries one step closer to patients in need. more...

Here, there, and everywhere

Yiping Xing, a senior biology major and KI undergraduate researcher, was recently featured in MIT News for her interdisciplinary work in health: from cancer research to public health to policy. In the Langer Lab, she worked with former graduate student James Dahlman on a team studying a nanoparticle drug-delivery system that uses RNAi to silence genes implicated in cancer development. In MIT’s International Development House, she designed an inexpensive, all-natural system that converts organic waste to animal feed, and she manages a program that implements the process for rural farmers in Ghana. As a result of these experiences and an internship experience in the U.S. Surgeon General’s office, Xing says she is particularly interested in how scientists can shape government policies that tackle domestic and global challenges. more...

Main attraction

Adding new splashes of color to Main Street, the 2015 Koch Institute Image Awards exhibition brings new views of MIT research to Cambridge locals and visitors alike. With winners chosen from more than 100 submissions and 35 laboratories, the KI's fifth annual showcase of life sciences and engineering imagery offers intriguing glimpses into microscopic worlds that change the way we view cancer, climate, and cell biology. See the winning images at ki-galleries.mit.edu, and watch the presentations by image creators here. Don’t forget to look for the Irvine Lab’s “Easy Breezy” microparticles in our sister exhibition at Wellcome Images and for all of the winning images on the Cell Picture Show. more...

Sangeeta Bhatia elected to the National Academy of Engineers

While the pundits may be looking forward to 2016, we’re excited about an election that has already happened. KI faculty member Sangeeta Bhatia has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE)—one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to American engineers. Bhatia is cited for her accomplishments in developing tissue engineering and regeneration technologies as well as methods for preclinical drug evaluation. As one of the NAE’s newest members, she now becomes the seventh current KI faculty member to hold the distinction. more...

Artsy bacteria spread science

Fresh on the heels of a top-five finish in Fashion Descience’s fall contest, bioengineer Tal Danino continues to use art as a medium to share his research. Danino, a postdoc in the KI’s Bhatia Lab and a recently named TED2015 Fellow, met MIT visiting artist Vik Muniz two years ago, kicking off an unlikely partnership. Their work ultimately resulted in the Colonies series, a translation of cancer cells and bacteria into art. Now, a piece from the series—a mosaic of liver cells infected with smallpox vaccine—is featured as part of the Gates Foundation’s “The Art of Saving a Life” campaign, which uses art to tell stories depicting the successes and future promises of immunization. Danino’s collaboration has been featured extensively in the press, including in The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and Wired. more...