Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Harvard Receives $125 Million to Pursue Biologically Inspired Engineering

The Globe reports that Harvard University has received its largest individual donation ever- $125 million dollars. The donation was made by a Harvard alumnus and will be used to create a new Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Harvard has the story here.

Here is a sample from their description of what the mission of this new Institute will be:

Over the past decade in particular, engineering, biology, medicine, and the physical sciences have increasingly converged. Through revolutionary advances in nanotechnology, genetics, and cell engineering, it is now possible to manipulate individual atoms, genes, molecules, and cells one at a time, and to create artificial biological systems. Simultaneous progress in materials science, molecular biology, and tissue engineering has enabled scientists to develop synthetic materials, microdevices, and computational strategies to manipulate cell function, guide tissue formation, and control complex organ physiology. As a result of these developments, the boundary between living and nonliving systems is beginning to break down.

The Wyss Institute will leverage these advances and facilitate new breakthroughs by advancing the science and engineering necessary to develop biomimetic materials, microdevices, microrobots, and innovative disease-reprogramming technologies that emulate how living cells and tissues self-organize and naturally regulate themselves. A deeper understanding of how living systems build, recycle, and control also will ultimately lead to more efficient bioinspired ways of converting energy, controlling manufacturing, improving the environment, and creating a more sustainable world.