Frontiers of Medical Engineering Symposium

Date: January 23, 2023
Time: 10:00 am - 3:30 pm
Location: Moore B280


January, 23, 2023
10:00-10:05 am Welcome and Introductions
10:05-11:05 am Wireless Bioelectronic Devices for Long-term Treatments and Cures
Dr. Siddharth Krishnan, Postdoctoral Scholar, MIT

Recent advances in engineering science have led to new classes of medical devices with enhanced functionality and longevity. In this talk, I will discuss conceptual advances in microfabrication, device integration and microscale transport phenomena that enable novel biosensors and drug delivery systems, with an emphasis on two recent examples from my work: (i) Wearable flow sensors, enabled by soft, skin-compliant mechanics with applications in neurosurgical diagnostics; (ii) advanced bioelectronic systems for drug delivery for a range of novel therapeutics. Each of these will form critical advances leading to integrated bioelectronics for minimally invasive, closed-loop therapeutics for a broad spectrum of diseases.

Siddharth Krishnan Siddharth Krishnan is a postdoctoral associate in the groups of Prof. Daniel Anderson and Prof. Robert Langer at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and a research affiliate at Boston Children’s Hospital. He received BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, and his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from Prof. John Roger’s group. His work has focused on the development of bioelectronic devices for sensing and therapeutics. He has published over 20 scientific papers, is an inventor on 2 patents and several patent applications and co-founded a company focused on translating his graduate work on wearable diagnostic tools for neurological surgery. His work has been recognized through several awards, including a K99/R00 pathway to independence grant from the NIH, a postdoctoral fellowship from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the 2019 Illinois Innovation Prize, and being named on MIT Technology Review’s Global Innovators Under 35 list and on Forbes 30 under 30 list in science.

11:15-12:15 pm Dynamic Bio-interfacing Functional Materials
Dr. Vivian Feig, Postdoctoral Scholar, MIT

Vivian Feig Functional materials with dynamic mechanical properties are needed to enable next-generation medical technologies to be less invasive and more convenient for patients. However, imparting dynamic properties like stretchability and injectability often comes at the expense of functional performance. In this talk, I will show how soft matter can enable bio-interfacing materials to circumvent the tradeoff between dynamism and functionality for two particularly difficult use cases: bio-electronics and load-bearing materials. First, bio-electronic devices traditionally are limited by their extreme mismatch in mechanical properties compared to soft tissues. We addressed this mismatch by harnessing the toolkit of polymer science and engineering to design novel conductors that are as soft as biological tissue, stretchable enough to conform to moving organ surfaces, and capable of being injected without sacrificing conductivity. Next, high-strength metal-based devices like orthopedic implants typically require invasive insertion and retrieval methods, while passively-degradable metals continuously weaken over time. To eliminate the need for device retrieval without compromising on mechanical properties, we used a biocompatible liquid metal to develop a strategy to trigger the on-demand breakdown of high-strength biomedical metals.These examples highlight the significant potential for soft matter to transform next-generation biomaterials and medical devices. I will conclude the talk by sharing my vision of a generalizable design strategy for realizing dynamic bio-interfacing functional materials. My future research group will develop and apply these materials towards improving the accessibility of medical technologies, including injectable electronics, injectable high-strength biomaterials, and ingestible robotics.

Dr. Vivian Feig is a Schmidt Science Fellow and postdoctoral researcher in the labs of Prof. Giovanni Traverso and Prof. Robert Langer at MIT and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Trained as a materials engineer, Dr. Feig designs novel bio-interfacing systems with unprecedented functionalities to enhance human health. In 2020, she received her Ph.D. from Stanford University with Prof. Zhenan Bao. As a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) fellow at Stanford, Vivian designed new conducting polymer-based materials to address the challenge of intimately coupling electronics with biological systems, which is critical for emerging therapies in areas like neuromodulation and regenerative medicine. Her research culminated in numerous honors, including the 2022 American Chemical Society (ACS) Global Outstanding Graduate Student Award in Polymer Science and Engineering, as well as selection to the graduate award symposia of the Materials Research Society (MRS) and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Besides research, she is also passionate about mentorship and scientific outreach, and was honored to receive the 2020 MRS Arthur Nowick Graduate Student Award for her efforts in these areas.

12:15-1:10pm Lunch
Moore Courtyard
1:10-1:15pm Introductions
1:15-2:15pm Robotic Textiles for Assistive Wearables
Dr. Vanessa Sanchez, Postdoctoral Scholar, Stanford University

Vanessa Sanchez Wearable robots and devices—garments with embedded elements that actuate to change shape or apply forces to the wearer, typically based on signals from integrated sensors—offer promise for assistive and augmentative applications in healthcare including rehabilitative gloves, haptic devices, and dynamically thermoregulating clothing. Early iterations of wearables from the 50s and 60s primarily took the form of rigid exoskeletons; however, in the past twenty years, a growing subset of this field has transitioned to the use of soft components and materials to improve portability, accessibility, fit, and comfort, guided in part by advances in the related field of soft robotics. Based on the unique requirements for wearables, including personalization for varied bodies and low cost for accessibility, automated and highly customizable textile-compatible manufacturing strategies must be developed to support the fabrication and integration of all the necessary components (sensors, actuators, interconnections). This seminar will explore the intersection of knowledge from the field of textile manufacturing with the needs of soft robots and devices, specifically focusing on assistive wearable applications, including performance metrics, material and component choices, and fabrication strategies. Several integrated design and fabrication platforms will be presented in the context of their ability to create constituent components for assistive wearable robots and devices.

Vanessa is a fashion-designer-turned-engineer working to make our clothing smarter and more assistive through focusing on the intersection of materials, manufacturing, and robotics. She currently conducts research on supramolecular shape memory polymer fibers as an NSF MPS-Ascend Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University. She attended The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) for fashion design and later graduated with a BS from the Fiber Science program at Cornell University, after which she obtained her PhD at Harvard University in Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering with a focus on soft robotic textiles as part of the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory. Her PhD was supported by the DoD NDSEG Fellowship and the GEM Fellowship, and her resulting work has been featured in Vice, Wired, and Engadget. She has been named to the list of 50 Women in Robotics You Need to Know, recognized as an ACS CAS Future Leader, and selected for Forbes 30 Under 30.

2:30-3:30pm High-throughput Cellular and Molecular Profiling for Therapeutic Development
Dr. Daniel Wang, Postdoctoral Scholar, Northwestern University

Daniel Wang Cellular therapies, the use of living cells as disease therapeutics, have revolutionized our capability to treat cancer and degenerative disease. However, the large numbers of cells required for the therapeutic administration are beyond the capability of current cell sorting approaches. In this talk, I will introduce our new approach for high-throughput cell capture and sorting, named magnetic ranking cytometry (MagRC), that exploits functionalized magnetic nanoparticles for molecular and phenotypic profiling at the single-cell level. MagRC is capable of profiling billions of cells at a time and therefore is extremely useful for therapeutic applications. This platform has been used to isolate rare therapeutic cells from complex biofluids for cancer cellular therapies, such as circulating tumor cells (Nature Biomed. Eng. 2021) and tumor-reactive lymphocytes (Nature Biomed. Eng. 2022 and 2023). In addition, this approach can be adapted to meet the demand for customized biomolecular screens, such as the rapid discovery of aptamers with defined binding kinetics for real-time biosensing (Nature Chem. in revision). Considering its high throughput, MagRC could change the way we discover, manufacture, and administrate next-generation therapies, making personalized treatment more affordable, amenable, and accessible.

Dr. Zongjie (Daniel) Wang received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, Canada in 2022 and is currently a postdoctoral scholar at Northwestern University. His primary research spans the design and application of microfluidic systems for next-gen therapeutics. These include the design of high-throughput cell sorting devices and their implementation in cancer immunotherapy and biomolecular screening. He has published 42 journal articles, 2 book chapters, and 7 conference proceedings. Dr. Wang’s work has been recognized with Connaught Scholarship, NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Scholarship, and the Extraordinary Potential Award from the China Scholarship Council. Dr. Wang holds 3 patents issued worldwide and is the founding scientist of CTRL Therapeutics, a precision medicine start-up.

Hosted by: Azita Emami