Studying these cells could lead to new treatments for diseases ranging from gastrointestinal disease to diabetes.
Professor Linda Griffith has been named director of the Biotechnology Process Engineering Center (BPEC), Dean of Engineering Thomas L. Magnanti has announced. She succeeds Professor Douglas Lauffenburger, who has stepped down after five years to assume the sole directorship of the Biological Engineering Division.
Griffith joined MIT in 1988 as a postdoctoral associate in chemical engineering and currently holds a dual appointment in the Biological Engineering Division and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She won the Popular Science "Brilliant 10" Award as well as an MIT Class of '60 Teaching Innovation Award for her role in establishing the biomedical engineering minor program. Griffith joined the BPEC as a principal investigator in 1998 and has served as deputy director for the past two years.
Griffith's research centers on designing and fabricating devices for tissue reconstruction, developing biomaterials that influence cell behavior and developing processes that eliminate bottlenecks in tissue regeneration. The BPEC, an Engineering Research Center funded by the National Science Foundation, fuses the practice of engineering with the science of molecular cell biology. The center aims to define the engineering/biology partnership needed to create a 'therapeutic gene' biotechnology industry. The center is working on two specific problems: gene delivery to stem cells that form blood, to correct inborn genetic problems; and gene delivery to liver cells to treat liver cancer.
"Linda Griffith is perfectly positioned to lead BPEC in the fusion of engineering and the science of molecular and cellular biology. I expect she will bring to her leadership of BPEC the same remarkable talent, dedication and enthusiasm that characterize her outstanding educational and research endeavors," Magnanti said.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 8, 2003.