Archived Seminars

"Mesenchymal Stem Cells: A Paradigm for Cellular Therapy and Tissue Engineering"

Mark F. Pittenger, PhD
WPI Class of 1979
Pearl Lifescience Partners, LLC

Thursday, April 8, 2010
3:00 pm
Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park
Seminar Room (1002)

Abstract:  Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) are being studied by an ever increasing number of laboratories, leading to a rich and complex research field.  These cells have the potential to teach us much about mesenchymal cell biology, control of gene expression, cellular differentiation, the cellular responses to tissue damage and the initiation of repair.  As models of stem cells, they can teach us about control of proliferation and differentiation signals, and the genes that regulate mesenchymal decisions.  As building blocks for tissue engineering, they can help us design strategies for creating complex tissues. As players in the body's immune system, MSCs are a useful tool to help dissect complex innate and adaptive responses, and understand whether MSCs can be used successfully for allogeneic as well as autologous transplantation.  There is continuing complexity that can confound experts as well as researchers new to the field.  While the field of MSC research and applications is expanding rapidly, it is useful to examine the characteristics of MSCs, their interactions with other cell types, biomaterials and their utility for tissue repair and regeneration.

Modification of endogenous disease related genes in somatic and stem cells by small DNA fragments

Dieter Gruenert, Ph.D.
Head, Stem Cell Research Program
California Pacific Medical Center
Univ. of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA.

Thursday,  April 9, 2009
4:15   P.M.
Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park
Seminar Room (1002)
(Refreshments at 4:00) 

Co-Hosted by WPI Department of Biology & Biotechnology and WPI Bioengineering Institute

Abstract: The presentation will present novel findings on the modification of genomic targets in somatic and stem cells by small DNA fragments (SDFs).  This process, termed small fragment homologous replacement (SFHR), has been used to target and modify reporter and endogenous genes.  The data presented will outline the targeting of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), the human ß-globin and the HPRT genes in airway epithelial cells (human and mouse), hematopoietic and embryonic stem cells, and lymphoblasts, respectively.  The presentation will discuss the potential of combined genetic and cell therapy approaches to treat genetic diseases and the potential mechanisms underlying SFHR.

Life Science Poster Session and CEO Networking Reception

Tuesday, September 9, 2008
5:00 - 6:00 pm
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Salisbury Labs

Plese join us for the first annual WPI Venture Forum Life Science poster session and CEO networking reception sponsored by the WPI Bioengineering Institute.  Learn about the great products and technologies being developed and commercialized in Central Mass.

Functional Analysis of Surface Roughness

Christopher A. Brown, PhD, PE, FASME
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Director, Surface Metrology Laboratory
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Monday, September 15, 2008
3:00 - 4:30 pm
Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park
Seminar Room (1002)

Presentation Abstract

Opportunities to improve product performance by better design of surface roughness, or texture, often have been constrained by the use of inadequate and inappropriate measurement and characterization methods.  The most widely used methods still primarily statistical and operate within many of the technical constraints of the 1930s.  The functional approach for analysis and characterization also relies on statistics, but attempts to answer the question: what would we need to know about the surface roughness to understand how it will behave and how to make it.

Since the 1980 when I was at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, and at Atlas Copco’s research center I have been developing better methods for characterizing surface textures.  These methods enable the discrimination of a wide variety of surfaces by differences in their textures, which are caused by environment, composition, and processing (Scott et al. 2005, Narayan et al 2006, Jordan and Brown 2006). The essence of the methods is to directly characterize geometrical features, such as available area, which should have an impact on performance.  The characterization must be as a function of scale of observation, since, on a rough surface, where the geometry has chaotic components, the characterization of geometric features tends to change with scale.  These methods exploit the observation that rough surface textures tend to be geometrically fractal in nature, which means that the apparent area increases with decreasing scale. 

These methods have allowed me to develop and test a discrete bonding model for quantifying the relation between surface textures and adhesion in thermal spray (Brown and Siegmann 2001), which has recently been applied to bacteria (Emerson et al. 2006). 

This presentation will review some of my basic and my recent work in surface metrology, showing how to discover scales of interaction with surface textures by using scale-based discrimination and correlation with scale-sensitive fractal analyses. 

Center for Regenerative Bioscience and Engineering Presents:

DNA Virus Vectors:
Efficient Gene Transfer Vehicles for Gene Therapy, Genetic Vaccines and Creation of Transgenics/Knock Downs

Tuesday, August 5, 2008
2:00 - 3:00 pm
Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park
Seminar Room (1002)

Guangping Gao, Ph.D.
Director, Gene Therapy Center
Professor, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
University of Massachusetts Medical School

Gateway Seminar - Life Sciences related IP matters

Three well recognized patent attorneys/agent from Burns & Levinson LLP will be providing attendees with an overview of intellectual property as well as details with respect to patent claim construction and various aspects of protecting chemical/biotechnology and life sciences inventions.

Thursday, February 7, 2008
1:00 - 2:30 pm
Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park
Seminar Room (1002)

Scheduled speakers:
Jacob (Jesse) N. Erlich, Esq., a partner at Burns and Levinson and a WPI graduate, will be presenting an overview of the various forms of intellectual property: trade secrets, patents, copyrights and trademarks. The presentation will focus on a comparison of these various forms of intellectual property protection and which form of intellectual property protection is best suited for an inventor and the university.

Dr. Janine M. Susan, Esq., and Dr. Yakov Korkhin will be presenting an analysis of patent claim construction, especially relating to the fields of chemistry, biotechnology and the life sciences. They will also provide a review of recent cases dealing with patents.

All three will be available to answer questions after their presentations.

Dr. Mike Manning, Director of Technology Transfer at WPI, will also be on hand to answer any WPI technology transfer questions.

"Quantifying the Cell-Material Interface Using FRET and Modeling"

Friday, November 2, 2007
3:30 - 4:30 PM
Life Sciences & Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park
Room 1002

David Mooney, Ph.D. 
Division of Engineering and Engineering and Applied Sciences
Harvard University

 "Engineering a Biological Pacemaker"

Thursday, October 25, 2007
3:00 - 4:00 PM
Life Sciences & Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park
Room 1002

Ira S. Cohen, MD, Ph.D.
Leading Professor of Physiology & Biophysics, Medicine and Biomedical Engineering
Director - Institute of Molecular Cardiology
SUNY Stony Brook

 "Life in the Age of Risk Management"

Wednesday, March 21, 2007
12:00 - 1:00 PM
Salisbury Labs 105

Dr. Kimberly M. Thompson
Associate Professor of Risk Analysis and Decision Science and Director,
Kids Risk Project
Harvard School of Public Health and
MIT Sloan School of Management (Visitor '05-'07)

Abstract: Using humor and real life examples that are relevant to broad audiences, Professor Kimberly Thompson will suggest that we should recognize the increasingly important role of risk management in our professional and personal lives. She will demonstrate the hazards of failing to consider the real differences between individuals that matter when making public policy decisions, and talk about how to become empowered by uncertainty, instead of paralyzed by it. The talk will cover a wide range of current technologies and issues, and discuss the need for improving how individuals and groups deal with risk in today's uncertain and complex world.

Bio: Professor Thompson's research interests and teaching focus on the issues related to developing and applying quantitative methods for risk assessment and risk management, and consideration of the implications associated with including uncertainty, variability, and time in risk characterization. Drawing on a diverse background, she seeks to effectively integrate technological, social, political, legal, and economic issues into analyses that improve decisions. Professor Thompson works with a number of companies on strategy, risk management, and communication. Much of her work focuses on children. As Associate Professor of Risk Analysis and Decision Science at the Harvard School of Public Health, she created and directs the Kids Risk Project (, which aims to empower kids, parents, policy makers, and others to make better decisions when managing children's risks. This work builds on Professor Thompson's long-standing interest in the issues related to variability in risk, and the need to consider the potential risk tradeoffs associated with different policies and management strategies. Her research spans a range of children's risks including injury, environmental, medical, and product-related risks, as well as perception of children's risks and the portrayal of risky behaviors in popular entertainment media. Professor Thompson's work currently focuses heavily on system dynamics and dynamic modeling, particularly in the context of modeling policies for polio risk management after the success of global eradication. She is currently a visiting Associate Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Dr. Thompson received her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Chemical Engineering from MIT and her Doctor of Science Degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. She is the author of Risk In Perspective: Insight and Humor in the Age of Risk Management (2004) (


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Last modified: May 05, 2010 16:07:42