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HST hosts symposium

As new biomedical technologies emerge from research and teaching laboratories, they're finding successful applications in health care delivery. The Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST) will host a symposium on these technologies on Monday and Tuesday, March 12 and 13.

On the first day of the event, "Experiencing the Frontiers of Biomedical Technology," there will be four concurrent hands-on workshops:

Tissue Engineering and Microdevices -- Participants will perform experiments to understand the importance of various surfaces and materials and how they affect the engineering of specific tissues and cells. The workshop will be directed by Sangeeta N. Bhatia of the University of California at San Diego, Christopher S. Chen of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Jeffrey R. Morgan of Harvard Medical School (HMS).

Drug Delivery Systems -- Participants will examine classic and experimental drug delivery technologies with a focus on the delivery of growth factors. They will discuss criteria for selecting the appropriate route of administration, and experiment with formulating and comparing various forms of controlled drug delivery. The workshop will be directed by Larry R. Brown, executive director of scientific affairs at Epic Therapeutics, Inc. and an HST visiting scholar.

The Hybrid Human: Human-Machine Systems -- Participants in this three-part workshop will develop a prototype for an instrument glove/wearable computer system, modify the design of an external leg prosthesis and control its function, and interact with a robotic arm to discover features of normal and pathological movement. The workshop will be directed by Hugh M. Herr, instructor at MIT and HMS; Assistant Professor Steve Massaquoi of electrical engineering and computer science; and Associate Professor Dava J. Newman of aeronautics and astronautics.

Informatics: Extracting the New Medicine from the Human Genome Project -- How does the Human Genome Project translate into new diagnostic and therapeutic methods? Participants will discover candidate genes in human tumor formation, investigate data from genomic data sets, generate a list of candidate genes, make "investments" on gene discovery strategies and compare their predictions to valid biological data. The workshop will be directed by Isaac Kohane of Children's Hospital and HMS.

There will be two afternoon discussions about regulatory and legal issues related to biotechnology. Each session will focus on a case discussion augmented by a review of the relevant literature.

On Tuesday, there will be comments on the art and science of biotechnology. Mehmet Toner, a faculty member in HST, HMS and Massachusetts General Hospital, will discuss tissue engineering and microdevices. Robert S. Langer, the Germeshausen Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, will discuss drug delivery systems. Emilio Bizzi, the Eugene McDermott Professor in the Brain Sciences and Human behavior, will talk about man-machine systems; and George M. Church, an HMS faculty member, will discuss informatics.

Registration for the conference is required, and space is limited. Contact Betsy Tarlin at x8-8759 or

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 8, 2001.

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