Susan Hockfield - The 21st Century's Technology Story: The Convergence of Biology with Engineering and the Physical Sciences

On March 12, 2014, KI faculty member and MIT President Emerita, Susan Hockfield, delivered the annual Edwin L. Godkin Lecture at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Her remarks, delivered with humor, insight, and hope, focused on a subject that is at the very core of the KI’s approach to conquering cancer: the convergence of biology with engineering and the physical sciences.

Hockfield referred to this convergence as the third revolution of modern biology, following the discovery of the structure of DNA and the sequencing of the human genome. She cited three present-day examples of interdisciplinary convergence from MIT–all from the Koch Institute: Sangeeta Bhatia’s nanoparticles to diagnose diseases early and accurately, Angela Belcher’s biodegradable batteries made from viruses, and Robert Langer’s nanoparticles specifically designed to target cancer. Hockfield also called attention to key challenges—including silos created by various scientific disciplines, their separate languages, rigid institutional structures, and limited funding—that must be overcome to fully realize the promise that convergence holds. Yet, she was optimistic about the transformative power of convergence-driven breakthroughs in healthcare, clean energy, food production, and innovation-based economic development. “The future we have not yet imagined is upon us, and the possibilities of convergence are truly beyond our imaginations.”

Watch the video of Hockfield's presentation on this page and read Harvard Gazette's coverage here. Read Hockfield's op-ed on this topic, written for The National Interest, here.

Susan Hockfield delivered the 2014 Godkin Lecture on the role universities will play in shaping the future. She discussed how biology combined with engineering and physical sciences can revolutionize technology and the necessity of a national movement that supports innovation and the advancement of American technology - See more at: http://forum.iop.harvard.edu/content/21st-centurys-technology-story-convergence-biology-engineering-and-physical-sciences#sthash.DtzDGiQR.dpuf
Susan Hockfield delivered the 2014 Godkin Lecture on the role universities will play in shaping the future. She discussed how biology combined with engineering and physical sciences can revolutionize technology and the necessity of a national movement that supports innovation and the advancement of American technology - See more at: http://forum.iop.harvard.edu/content/21st-centurys-technology-story-convergence-biology-engineering-and-physical-sciences#sthash.DtzDGiQR.dpuf