Doctoral student wins Collegiate Inventors Competition

Thursday, October 28, 2010 - 09:30 in Health & Medicine

Alice Chen, a doctoral candidate in the Harvard/MIT Health Sciences and Technology Program, has received the graduate first prize in the Collegiate Inventors Competition for her work with tissue-engineered liver mimetics in mice. Chen received $15,000. The competition promotes innovation by recognizing inventors and scientists early in their careers and rewarding students’ often-pioneering ideas as they address the problems of today’s world. Chen knew that although mice are widely used in medical research, they’re often not helpful for pharmaceutical testing. The liver is where many drugs are broken down, or metabolized, and mouse livers and human livers metabolize substances differently, but Chen developed a way to implant human liver cells in mice. Her approach is different from other existing techniques in that she implants a matrix that contains functioning human liver cells and the nutrients they need directly into a healthy mouse.  The matrix, once implanted, performs functions much like a human liver, making it...

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