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Biological engineering

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The Boston Globe

Ginkgo Bioworks founders Jason Kelly PhD ’08, S.B. ’03 and Reshma Shetty PhD ’08 speak with Boston Globe reporter Scott Kirsner about the inspiration for and growth of the company, which is focused on manipulating genetic material to get living cells to perform new jobs. Shetty notes that the Ginkgo Bioworks team is “dedicated to making biology easier to engineer."

United Press International (UPI)

UPI reporter Brooks Hays writes that MIT researchers have developed a new technique for labeling and retrieving DNA files, “a breakthrough that could help shrink the carbon footprint of the rapidly expanding digital world.”

NPR

Prof. Linda Griffith joins Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air to discuss how studying endometriosis could help unlock some of the mysteries of tissue regeneration. "The regeneration of the endometrium is weirdly not studied as much as it should be," she says. "But it's fascinating because you get about a centimeter of growth of tissue that has beautifully formed blood vessels, an immune system, all of the structures of the tissue — over a period of about two weeks."

Science

In an editorial for Science, Prof. Sangeeta Bhatia, Prof. Emerita Nancy Hopkins and President Emerita Susan Hockfield underscore the importance of addressing the underrepresentation of women and minorities in tech transfer. “The discoveries women and minority researchers are making today have great potential as a force for good in the world,” they write, “but reaching that potential is only possible if paths to real-world applications are open to everybody.”

New York Times

Prof. Linda Griffith is on a mission to change the conversation about endometriosis “from one of women’s pain to one of biomarkers, genetics and molecular networks,” writes Rachel E. Gross for The New York Times. “The endometrium is inherently regenerative,” says Griffith. “So studying it, you’re studying a regenerative process — and how it goes wrong, in cases.” 

Stat

Prof. Emerita Nancy Hopkins speaks with Rebecca Sohn of STAT about the Boston Biotech Working Group’s goal of increasing the number of women leaders and entrepreneurs in biotech and her hopes for the future of women in biotech and the sciences. “You want people to feel that they are free to participate in all the things wherever it leads them,” says Hopkins. “So I think the goal is just that people who really want to do this [pursue biotech] don’t face any greater barrier than anybody else. That everybody has equal access and education to do as they want to.”

Forbes

To better understand what gives mucus its disease-protecting properties, MIT researchers created synthetic mucins, writes Forbes contributor Jackie Rocheleau. Understanding the antimicrobial properties of mucus “could offer a whole new way of treating infectious disease,” says Prof. Laura Kiessling.

HealthCare Asia Daily

Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) researchers have developed a new lab-free immune profiling assay that can be used “to better profile aggressive, rapidly changing host immune response in cases of infection, for example COVID-19,” reports HealthCare Asia Daily.

Scientific Inquirer

A new assay developed by researchers from the Critical Analytics for Manufacturing Personalized-Medicine (CAMP), an Interdisciplinary Research Group (IRG) at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), can profile the “rapidly changing host immune response in case of infection, in a departure from existing methods that focus on detecting the pathogens themselves,” reports the Scientific Inquirer.

New York Times

Writing for The New York Times, visiting scientist Mark Trusheim and Peter Bach of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center explore how to lower the cost of biologic drugs. “Prices of new drugs will continue to make headlines, as well they should,” they write. “But we must fix the problem that older biologic drugs have perpetually high prices, and do so by passing a law that ensures that at the appropriate time their prices fall fast, and they fall far.”

NIH

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH, spotlights Prof. Ed Boyden’s work developing a new technology that “enables researchers for the first time to study an intact tissue sample and track genetic activity on the spot within a cell’s tiniest recesses, or microenvironments—areas that have been largely out of reach until now.”

Wired

Wired reporter Will Knight spotlights how MIT researchers built a machine learning system that can help predict which patients are most likely to develop breast cancer. “What the AI tools are doing is they're extracting information that my eye and my brain can't,” says Constance Lehman, a professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and division chief of breast imaging at MGH.

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Jon Chesto writes that MIT, Harvard, several research hospitals and life-sciences companies have selected a site for a new biologics manufacturing and innovation center. The project is aimed at expediting “discoveries for biotech treatments in university labs by allowing researchers to bypass the long waits that are common at contract manufacturers,” writesChesto. 

The New York Times

A new study by MIT researchers finds that “changes in coronavirus levels in wastewater preceded rises and falls in positive test results by four to 10 days,” reports Kim Tingley for The New York Times. The findings suggest that “sewage surveillance could play an important role in helping contain the pandemic.”

New York Times

Prof. Eric Alm speaks with New York Times Magazine reporter Kim Tingley about how studying wastewater can provide public health officials with advance warning of an uptick in coronavirus cases. “If you want to really understand what’s going on in a city on a basic chemical, biological level, you should be looking at the wastewater," says Alm.