March 27, 2014
8:00 p.m. in the Butler Boardroom
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Super Cells: Building with Biology
In this eye-popping tour of the new biological frontier, Nina Tandon describes the tantalizing array of inventions already being created with nature’s elemental building block: the cell. Imagine personalized bone replacements, living condominium complexes, bacteria-made haute couture, and top sirloin grown without a farm. Tandon contends that we’re entering a new technological era, one in which we can create smarter technologies by making cells our partners in design. And they confront the thorny questions that come with playing with the power of life.
About Nina Tandon
Nina Tandon believes that the era of engineered tissues — like, for example, a replacement kidney grown in the lab — is just beginning. In this talk, Tandon shows us how we (and our bodies) have lived through most of history (Body 1.0), and then how we evolved into "cyborgs" with implants (such as pacemakers and artificial joints, Body 2.0). Now, Body 3.0 is all about growing our OWN body parts. For her PhD thesis, Tandon grew cardiac cells that beat like tiny hearts. In this thrilling and eye-opening talk, she explains the process of growing tissue and transplants, and the future of medical science. With the help of manufacturing and information technology, we are on the verge of being able to grow human tissue--and Tandon is here to walk us through this unbelievably exciting era. She also gets the audience excited about how they themselves may get themselves involved in the process.
Tissue engineer and TED Fellow Nina Tandon is growing artificial hearts and bones. To do that, she needs new ways of caring for artificially grown cells — techniques she's developed by the simple but powerful method of copying their natural environments.
Nina Tandon studies electrical signaling in the context of tissue engineering, with the goal of creating “spare parts” for human implantation and/or disease models. She is an electrical and biomedical engineer at Columbia University's Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, and adjunct professor of Electrical Engineering at the Cooper Union, teaching a "Bioelectricity" class. Fast Company named her one of their 100 most creative people in business.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Cooper Union, Tandon spent her early career in telecom (Avaya Labs) and transitioned into biomedical engineering via her Fulbright scholarship in Italy, where she worked on an electronic nose used to “smell” lung cancer. Tandon studied electrical stimulation for cardiac tissue engineering at MIT and Columbia, and now continues her research on electrical stimulation for broader tissue-engineering applications.