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NEXT: The brave new world of 3D bioprinting

The Crawford Family Forum

Why wait for a liver transplant when a 3D printer will soon be able to build a new organ from your own stem cells?  That's the hype and hyperbole surrounding the new field of biofabrication. What can we really expect in the next decade?  Will early progress lead us into a brave new world of spare body parts? Some experts say it’s possible.

In this event, we got a sober yet hopeful assessment of the possibilities from Andrew Hessel, a futurist and catalyst in biological technologies, Keith Murphy, chairman and chief executive officer at Organovo, a leader in 3D printing, and Dr. Shaochen Chen, professor in the Department of NanoEngineering at the University of California, San Diego.

Scientists at Organovo have already adapted inkjet technology like that you have sitting next to your computer for the creation of simple, three dimensional, living tissue. Those in Dr. Chen’s lab have demonstrated the capability of printing three-dimensional blood vessels in mere seconds out of soft, biocompatible hydrogels. Replacement bones or bioprinted brain tissue?  We’ll show them to you. 


Mat Kaplan: host of KPCC’s science series, “NEXT: People | Science | Tomorrow;” host of Planetary Radio for The Planetary Society.


Shaochen Chen:  professor in the Department of NanoEngineering at the University of California, San Diego; he is also a faculty member of the Institute of Engineering in Medicine and the Clinical Translational Research Institute at UCSD. The Chen group is interested in developing 3D bioprinting techniques with a micro or nanoscale printing resolution. They explore novel nanomaterials and biomaterials for tissue engineering applications. The group not only investigates the fundamental scientific issues, such as cell interactions with micro and nano-environments, biomaterials science, nanophotonics, and biomechanics, but also solves the technological and translational issues associated with medical applications.

Andrew Hessel: a futurist and catalyst in biological technologies, helping industry, academics, and authorities better understand the changes ahead in life science.  He is a Distinguished Researcher with Autodesk Inc.’s Bio/Nano Programmable Matter group, based out of San Francisco.  He is also the co-founder of the Pink Army Cooperative, the world’s first cooperative biotechnology company, which is aiming to make open source viral therapies for cancer.

Andrew has also been the co-chair of Bioinformatics and Biotechnology at the Singularity University, located at the NASA Research Park in Mountain View, California.  There, he educates graduate students and executive participants on the disruptive shifts underway in life science and helps them become actively engaged in these changes.  In November, 2011, he was appointed a fellow at the University of Ottawa, Institute for Science, Society, and Policy, focusing on how next-generation technologies shape society’s future. 

Keith Murphy: chairman and chief executive officer at Organovo, a San Diego company leading in the fields of bioprinting and tissue engineering.  Mr. Murphy has 20 years of experience in biotechnology, including serving in Product Strategy and Director of Process Development roles at Amgen. He is a co-founder of Organovo and has been responsible for all company operations since 2007. His ten years at Amgen included four years as Global Operations Leader for the largest development program in Amgen’s history, Phase 3 osteoporosis/bone cancer drug denosumab. At Amgen, he also worked to develop several other novel formulation and device products.

Prior to Amgen, he played a central role at Alkermes, Inc. on the development team for their first approved product, Nutropin (hGH) Depot. He holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is an alumnus of the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Mr. Murphy serves as Vice Chairman of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, comprised of over 120 member companies, patient advocacy foundations, venture capital firms, and academic research institutes focused on the advancement of regenerative medicine through engagement with government leaders and cooperative efforts.


“NEXT: People | Science | Tomorrow “-- the Crawford Family Forum series on the convergence of science, technology and society.