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Nina Tandon: Could tissue engineering mean personalized medicine?
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Each of our bodies is utterly unique, which is a lovely thought until it comes to treating an illness — when every body reacts differently, often unpredictably, to standard treatment. Tissue engineer Nina Tandon talks about a possible solution: Using pluripotent stem cells to make personalized models of organs on which to test new drugs and treatments, and storing them on computer chips. (Call it extremely personalized medicine.)
Nina Tandon studies ways to use electrical signals to grow artificial tissues for transplants and other therapies.
WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO HER
Nina Tandon studies electrical signaling in the context of tissue engineering, with the goal of creating “spare parts” for human implantation and/or disease models. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Cooper Union, Nina worked on an electronic nose used to “smell” lung cancer as a Fulbright scholar in Rome. She studied electrical stimulation for cardiac tissue engineering at MIT and Columbia, and now continues her research on electrical stimulation for broader tissue-engineering applications. Tandon was a 2011 TED Fellow and a 2012 Senior Fellow.
“I love pointing out to my students that the cable equations we use to analyze transmission along nerves are the same ones developed for the transatlantic cable.” Nina Tandon
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Should we keep the outdoors out of hospitals? Ecologist and TED Fellow Jessica Green has found that mechanical ventilation does get rid of many types of microbes, but the wrong kinds: the ones left in the hospital are much more likely to be pathogens.
Jessica Green wants people to understand the important role microbes play in every facet of our lives: climate change, building ecosystems, human health — even roller derby. This University of Oregon professor (also known by her derby name “Thumper Biscuit”) is using non-traditional tools — like art, animation, and film -– to help people visualize the invisible world.
Why you should listen to her:
Jessica Green is an engineer and ecologist who specializes in biodiversity theory and microbial systems. As a professor at both the University of Oregon and the Santa Fe Institute, she is the founding director of the innovative new Biology and the Built Environment (BioBE) Center that bridges biology and architecture. Jessica envisions a future with genomic-driven approaches to architectural design that promote sustainability, human health and well-being. She is currently spearheading efforts to model buildings as complex ecosystems that house trillions of diverse microorganisms interacting with each other, with humans, and with their environment. This framework uses next-generation sequencing technology to characterize the “built environment microbiome” and will offer site-specific design solutions to minimize the spread of infectious disease and maximize building energy efficiency.