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“Human Organs Chips for Drug Development, Disease Modeling, and Precision Medicine” with Dr. Kevin Healy

Wed, February 14, 2018
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM PT
Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall, UC Berkeley

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About the speaker:

Kevin E. Healy, Ph.D. is the Jan Fandrianto and Selfia Halim Distinguished Professor in Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley in the Departments of Bioengineering, and Materials Science and Engineering. He served as Chair of the Department of Bioengineering from 2011 to 2015. He received a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rochester in 1983. He obtained graduate degrees in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania (Mechanical Engineering: 1985; Ph.D.: 1990). He is a thought leader and innovator working at the interface between stem cells and materials science to develop dynamic engineered systems to explore both fundamental biological phenomena and new applications in translational medicine. His group currently conducts research in the areas of: bioinspired stem cell microenvironments to control stem cell lineage specification and self-organization into microtissues or organs; bioinspired systems for regenerative medicine; biological interfaces; and, microphysiological systems for drug toxicity screening. Major discoveries from his laboratory have centered on the control of cell fate and tissue formation in contract with materials that are tunable in both their biological content and mechanical properties. These materials find applications in medicine, dentistry, and biotechnology.

Talk Abstract:

Our work has emphasized creating both healthy and diseased model organ systems, we call microphysiological systems or ‘organ chips’, to address the broken drug discovery process. The average time to develop and launch a new drug is 10-15 years, and costs ~ $5b. The poor efficiency and high failure rates are attributed to the heavy reliance on non-human animal models employed during safety and efficacy testing that poorly reflect human disease states. With the discovery of human induced pluripotent stem cells, we can now develop organ chips to be used for high content drug screening, disease modelling, and precision medicine. While organ chips are poised to disrupt the drug development process and significantly reduce the cost of bringing a new drug candidate to market, organ chip technology is much more robust and creates a whole new paradigm in how to conduct biological science, and advances medicine in revolutionary ways. While chips featuring single organs can be of great use for both pharmaceutical testing and basic organ-level studies, the huge potential of organ chip technology is revealed by connecting multiple organs on a single chip to create a scalable integrated human system for mechanistic biological studies and devising therapies for common, rare, and difficult to study diseases. Ultimately, the vision is to reduce or eliminate the use of animals in drug discovery, and conduct ‘clinical trials’ in patient-specific organ chips that can accommodate variations in genetics, environment, and lifestyle.


Free and open to the public. Register online by Monday for a free lunch at UC Berkeley. The CITRIS Research Exchange Seminar Series is a weekly dialogue highlighting leading voices on societal-scale research issues. Each one-hour seminar starts at 12pm Pacific time and is hosted live at Sutardja Dai Hall on the UC Berkeley campus.

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