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MIT Professor wins $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize

Sangeeta N. Bhatia SM ’93, PhD ’97, the John J. and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology & Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, has been awarded the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for her work in applying small-scale technologies to create clinical solutions that can be implemented on a global scale. The annual prize is awarded to mid-career inventors who develop products that have societal value.

Bhatia and her team developed synthetic biomarkers that can detect the presence of diseases such as cancer and fibrosis. These biomarkers are then used to devise a simple paper urine test that is cost-effective and scalable to regions that lack extensive medical resources.

The prize-winning team also pioneered into the production of artificial microlivers, which can be used to model the behavior of infections, such as malaria, that originate in the liver. The microlivers may even lay the groundwork for engineered livers that supersede the need for transplants.

Professor Bhatia is a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Research and a senior associate member at the Broad Institute, as well as a faculty member at the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science.

—Rohan Banerjee