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HST celebrates 35 years of innovation

Thirty-five years ago, two of the world's greatest universities got together to build a community of scientists and clinicians that would work together to harness the power of science and engineering for the benefit of human health.

During the weekend of Sept. 23-25, that community turned out in force to celebrate the anniversary of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences & Technology (HST).

HST brings great minds from MIT, Harvard and their affiliated teaching hospitals and research centers together to educate students and conduct research at the intersection of biology, physics, engineering and medicine.

MIT President Susan Hockfield, Provost L. Rafael Reif and former MIT President Howard Johnson participated in the celebration, along with Harvard University Provost Steven Hyman and Dean of the Harvard Medical School Joseph Martin.

"HST has been a training ground for the finest young people in their fields," Hockfield said. "When you read the list of HST graduates and the people who are here at this celebration, it reads like a Who's Who in modern biomedical science. This program has had an impact on this nation and the world unlike any other."

Events included a full-day alumni symposium, an evening gala and an exhibition of HST's graduate-level educational programs and many interdisciplinary research centers, including the Harvard-MIT Bioengineering Center; the Center for Biomedical Innovation; the Children's Hospital Informatics Program at HST; the Clinical Research Center; the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging; and the Wellman Center for Photomedicine.

The longest-standing collaboration between MIT and Harvard University, HST was founded in 1970 by people who anticipated the impact that science and engineering could have on medicine and human health. Led by Dr. Irving M. London, who was honored at the celebration, a group of dedicated faculty decided to create a curriculum that would integrate a range of sciences basic to the study of medicine, engineering and medicine and that would offer students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture of the laboratory and the culture of the clinic.

HST today has one of the largest biomedical physician scientist training programs in the country, with more than 400 students and more than 1,100 alumni occupying leadership positions in research, academia, industry and government. The division is at the leading edge of research in its three primary focus areas: biomedical imaging; bioinformatics and integrative biology; and regenerative and functional biomedical technologies.

Alumni/ae participating in the symposium included Mark Saltzman, who chairs the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Yale University; Dr. Joseph Smith, senior vice president of Guidant CRM; Susan Voss, an assistant professor of engineering at Smith College and a lecturer at Harvard Medical School; and George Wodicka, head of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University and chair of the joint Purdue-Indiana University biomedical engineering graduate program.

For more information on HST and the 35th anniversary celebration, visit

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 28, 2005 (download PDF).

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