Ali Khademhosseini Interview Series

Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School — Harvard and Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

Ali Khademhosseini is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Biomaterials Innovation Research Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is also a faculty at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology as well as an Associate Faculty at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and a Junior PI at Japan’s World Premier International-Advanced Institute for Materials Research at Tohoku University where he directs a satellite laboratory. He is recognized as a leader in combining micro- and nano-engineering approaches with advanced biomaterials for regenerative medicine applications. In particular, his laboratory has pioneered numerous technologies and materials for controlling the architecture and function of engineered vascularized tissues. He has authored over 500 journal papers (H-index = 86, ~29,000 citations) and 50 books/chapters. In addition, he has delivered 300+ invited/keynote lectures.Dr. Khademhosseini’s interdisciplinary research has been recognized by over 40 major national and international awards. He is a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the US government for early career investigators. He is also a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), Fellow of the Biomaterials Sciences and Engineering (FBSE) and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Currently he serves on the editorial board of numerous leading journals as well as an Associate Editor for ACS Nano (IF: 12) and a permanent member of NIH BTSS study section. He received his Ph.D. in bioengineering from MIT (2005), and MASc (2001) and BASc (1999) degrees from University of Toronto both in chemical engineering. Read more at: http://www.tissueeng.net/.

Q: What is your vision on the intersection of 3D Printing and healthcare?

A: I envision that 3D printing can create a wide variety of products with a huge impact on healthcare. Such products, in the form of tissues and organs for tissue regeneration and drug testing will bring a paradigm shift in the fields of personalized prosthetics, implants, and anatomical models.

Q: What do you specialize in? What is your passion?

A: My research is focused on developing micro- and nano scale biomaterials to control cellular behavior with particular emphasis on developing engineered materials and systems for tissue engineering. In particular, I am passionate about developing various approaches to merge micro fabrication techniques such as 3D bioprinting, photo lithography, and microfluidics with hydrogel biomaterials for directing cell organization and generating complex 3D tissues. I am also developing ‘organ-on-a-chip’ systems that aim to mimic human response to various chemicals in vitro. In addition, my laboratory is developing technologies to control the formation of vascularized tissues with appropriate micro architectures as well as regulating stem cell differentiation within micro engineered systems.

Q: What inspired you to do what you do?

A: A passion for science and bringing technologies that make a change for the larger good is what inspired me. I have been lucky to have had my education under the shadows of some great scientists who have brought ground breaking concepts and technologies from bench to bedside that continue to change the lives of millions.

Q: What is the biggest potential impact you see 3D printing having on the healthcare industry?

A: The application of 3D bioprinting technologies in healthcare industry can provide many potential impacts, including: the customization and personalization of medical products, drugs, and equipment, cost-effectiveness, increased productivity, the democratization of design and manufacturing, and enhanced collaboration.

Q: What challenges do you see arising in implementing 3D printing in healthcare sector in the next 5 years?

A: A major challenge in making large tissues is vascularization. The pace at which the 3D bioprinting technology is developing, I see it is not a distant dream to achieve.

Q: What is the best business lesson you have learned?

A: I have learned that to enable biofabricated products, a synergy of multidisciplinary scientific fields such as mechanics, computer science, biomaterials, biology, tissue engineering, etc. is required for a successful translation. There is always a market for technologies that are disruptive in their approach to address a particular health problem.

Q: What is the biggest business risk you have taken?

A: It was to accept a job offer at Harvard Medical School as it is a very challenging environment.