The first four recipients of $50,000 John F. and Virginia B. Taplin Awards, announced at last week's graduation ceremonies for the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), include three MIT faculty members.
The award winners are Professor Elazer R. Edelman, HST Class of '83 and the Thomas D. and Virginia W. Cabot Associate Professor of HST; Assistant Professor Dennis M. Freeman of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS); Professor W. Eric L. Grimson of EECS; and Dr. Mehmet Toner, HST Class of '89 and associate professor of surgery and bioengineering at Harvard Medical School.
John Taplin (SB '35) and his wife Virginia recently endowed a $2 million fund to advance research, study and training in HST (MIT Tech Talk, April 30, 1997). The fund will recognize and support the work of HST faculty and students in building HST's infrastructure in the areas of biomedical engineering, physics and chemistry.
Professor Edelman will use his grant to expand bioinstrumentation and procedural medicine within the HST Biomedical Engineering Center, which has a strong history of accomplishment and contribution to MIT and the community of biomedical sciences and engineering. His work also will forge stronger links with the Harvard Medical School-affiliated hospitals.
Professor Freeman, who played a key role in HST's Speech and Hearing Sciences program, pioneered a new method of video-based motion measurement for diverse fields of health sciences. He originally developed the technique to measure sound-induced motions of inner ear structures but now plans to investigate applications to other biomedical and engineering applications. Aided by the Taplin award, he will be instrumental in establishing the HST imaging initiative.
Professor Grimson will continue his leadership role with HST's imaging initiative. His current research is in image-guided surgery, helping surgeons visualize accurate models of internal anatomy within a patient. The use of biomedical imaging permits surgeons to perform procedures precisely and efficiently with minimal intrusion into neighboring areas. The technique has had demonstrated success in some neurosurgical procedures. Professor Grimson is now eager to extend these efforts into other specialties of surgery. His efforts have the promise of creating a substantive new educational program in biomedical imaging for HST.
Dr. Toner, a graduate of the HST Medical Engineering and Medical Physics program, will use his award to enlarge the scope of biomedical engineering educational opportunities at Harvard and MIT with particular emphasis on the formal training of MDs in biomedical engineering. He plans to create two new graduate-level HST courses in thermodynamic and kinetic processes in molecular medicine, and in microfabrication in biology and medicine.
As part of the award program, an HST-Taplin Symposium will be held each spring to report on the work that has been accomplished with the support of the awards.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 11, 1997.