Organ on a chip—sounds like an appetizer you would see on a menu at an upscale restaurant in the city. However, it is actually some of the most fascinating technology coming out of the Wyss Institute at Harvard. At this year’s BIO International Convention in Boston, Dr. Geraldine Hamilton spoke about her research into this field. She spoke for about forty minutes, but I managed to take three full pages of notes about her work, which I almost felt bad for taking since they took some of my focus away from her presentation. I have honestly never seen a more remarkable presenter. Her presentation topic included technology that could and should have been cluttered with scientific jargon, but not for Dr. Hamilton. She took concepts, like having an organ on a chip smaller than a fingernail for clinical testing purposes, and reduced it to something everyone in the audience, regardless of background, could understand.
Her presentation format was incredible as well. She started off with some background about the Wyss Institute, and then launched right into the problem she sought to solve. In this presentation specifically, she addressed how using animals as test subjects was not only ethically wrong, but basically ineffective as a model for clinical testing. The slides behind her had very few words beyond the titles, which I found to be great and easy to follow. She kept everyone in the audience engaged which given how specific her topic was, I consider to be a feat.
For me, the most interesting part of her presentation was the actual technology her group is producing. These organs on chips enable clinical testing to be done in a more efficient and more effective way. This could revolutionize the pharmaceutical world and provide hope for millions of patients with diseases that today are considered to be terminal. Call me a geek, but watching a cluster of cells on a chip perform like they are actually within an organ because we now have a technology that can replicate the internal conditions of a body absolutely blows my mind. I know I’ll be following the research on this project going forward, and I recommend you all to do the same.
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