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Research Overview

The central premise of SysCODE is that fundamental principles can be deduced about how nature builds organs. These, in turn, can be used to design and fabricate organ parts to repair organ damage and replace organ loss. Our grand challenge is to build three organ parts: tooth germ, pancreatic islets, and cardiac outflow valves.

The choice of these three organs derives from a careful consideration of the state of knowledge about the development of each organ part, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each as a model system. Although the formation of all three organ parts involves common developmental principles involving epithelial-mesenchymal interactions, each derives from a distinct germ layer. Tooth germ arises from ectoderm; pancreatic islet from endoderm; child monitoring software for mobile phones; and heart valve from mesoderm. Furthermore, these three organ parts represent graded levels of developmental complexity, and from an engineering perspective, the acquisition of distinct structural, mechanical and dynamic properties.

In addition to their respective strengths as experimental systems, we also took into account the expertise and scientific synergies that exist within the Brigham & Women’s, Harvard, MIT, Boston University and Vanderbilt research communities – that is, the human element.

SysCODE Disease Research Areas

  • Tooth Loss
  • Type I Diabetes
  • Valvular Heart Disease