In the News

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...

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...

Robert Langer

Robert Langer wins the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

KI faculty member Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, has been named the winner of the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering (QEPrize). As there is no Nobel Prize for engineering, the QEPrize was launched in 2011 to fill this void while raising the public profile of engineering and inspiring young people to become engineers. Langer is receiving the prize for his revolutionary advances and leadership in engineering at the interface with chemistry and medicine. In particular, this recognition comes for being the first person to engineer polymers to enable the controlled release of large molecular weight drugs in the treatment of cancer and other diseases.  He will receive the prize from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace later this year. more...

Forbes 30 Under 30

Four KI trainees recognized as Forbes 30 Under 30

The KI boasts a great deal of young talent, and Forbes agrees! Forbes published its fourth annual 30 Under 30 lists in January, recognizing young game changers, movers, and makers in various fields. Four KI-affiliated trainees were named to the lists: two in the healthcare category, and two in the science category. more...

Rhodes Scholars

Two new Rhodes Scholars with KI connections

The 2015 class of Rhodes Scholars includes three members of the MIT community, two of whom have close KI ties. Since his freshman year, senior biology major Elliot Akama-Garren has been an undergraduate researcher in KI Director Tyler Jacks's laboratory, where he studies the therapeutic potential of T cells in suppressing lung cancer. While at Oxford, he plans to pursue a master’s degree in integrated immunology before returning to the U.S. to begin MD-PhD studies. Senior chemical and biological engineering major Anisha Gururaj has worked with the Langer Lab and, more recently, with KI faculty member Michael Yaffe to design a low-cost, nonelectric fluid warmer for military trauma victims. At Oxford, she plans to pursue master’s degrees in engineering science research and public policy. more...

Steven Keating

Curiouser and curiouser

In 2007, Steven Keating had his brain scanned out of sheer curiosity—he wanted to see what his brain looked like. While the scan showed nothing too out of the ordinary, his persisting interest in his brain would ultimately lead to the detection of a baseball-sized tumor that was removed this past August. Now a graduate student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and based at the MIT Media Lab, Keating says that his curiosity saved his life and that his experience with cancer has fueled a strong interest in advocating for open sourcing health data. He spoke at the KI in October to share his story as part of a SOLUTIONS: with/in/sight event on IDH-mutant cancers. more...

Phil Sharp

Crucial convergence

KI member Phillip Sharp, Nobel laureate and Institute Professor, writes about MIT's history of convergence and the changing way we "do science." In the School of Science’s fall newsletter, he discusses the importance of bringing faculty and students together from the life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering to tackle the world's growing challenges. As Sharp writes, “Convergence does not mean that different fields of study merely share their tools, but rather that the fields come together to re-conceptualize approaches to research and solving problems.” He cites the KI as an example, when in 2008, cancer biologists from MIT’s Center for Cancer Research joined engineers from the School of Engineering to create this new institute on campus.  more...