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Please e-mail your questions before May 28th Read the Answers

Linda Griffith is a Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at MIT and is affiliated with the MIT Center for Biomedical Engineering and the Biotechnology Process Engineering Center. She received a Bachelor's Degree from Georgia Tech in 1982 and a PhD degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1988, both in chemical engineering.

Dr. Griffith researches biomaterials and devices for tissue and organ regeneration and has published over 70 peer-reviewed articles. Her work combines molecular design, synthesis of surfaces and design and synthesis of macroscopic 3-D devices, with an emphasis on developing liver tissue in vitro. One of her inventions, "Injectable Cartilage," is currently in clinical trials for treatment of urological disorders.

The recipient of an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1991, Griffith is on the editorial board of Journal of Biomaterials Science, Polymer Edition, and has edited a book on biomaterials for tissue regeneration. At MIT, she teaches courses on Transport Phenomena and on Tissue Engineering, is the co-chair of MIT's undergraduate biomedical engineering curriculum committee, and is a founding faculty member in MIT's new Division of Biological Engineering.


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Griffith responds :

Deb asks:
I wish I could have been there with you! I would have offered you my stem cells because I have a very complicated medical history, with bizarre reactions to many medications. Wouldn't be very beneficial to work on cells from people like me to find out why we react the way we do, to redesign medications or new cells to help us?

Griffith's response:
Thanks for your generous offer. Indeed some day we hope to have cells that represent the whole spectrum of human conditions and responses. We must first validate that the system works well for tissue that is already well-documented so that we can understand unusual behavior. We are working on that now with a large team of scientists and engineers at several academic labs across the country.

Timothy asks:
How would your liver chip, or the body on the bench, impact the cost of medical research? What kind of researchers would benefit from such chips?

Griffith's response:
We have not performed a direct cost estimate, in part because there are probably lots of ways that the technology might be used that we can't anticipate. Right now, the cost of clinical trials on human patients is very high. What we hope is that the technology will allow researchers of all kinds to do much better prediction of how a treatment will work in humans before organizing a clinical trial, and thus that fewer patients will ultimately be needed.

Jackie asks:
How does the current political climate affect your work with stem cells?

Griffith's response:
The NIH budget has increased significantly, and funding for work with adult stem cells is readily available through NIH. We are not working with embryonic stem cells. On average, our work is positively affected by the investment in the NIH budget.

Reggie Williams asks:
What are the big questions remaining in your field? What problems will you try to solve next?.

Griffith's response:
For the specific technology we are developing right now, a big question is exactly how close it is to liver in the body. We are thus employing DNA microarray technology to examine how closely the gene expression in our liver chip follows gene expression in native liver when we treat it with a toxin. This work is supported in part by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, in their effort to foster development of technologies that will replace animal testing.


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