Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering

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Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering
Logo of the Wyss Institute
Established 2009 (2009)
Director Donald E. Ingber, M.D., Ph.D.
Location Boston, Massachusetts

The Wyss[1] Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering is a cross-disciplinary research institute at Harvard University which focuses on developing new bioinspired materials and devices for applications in healthcare, manufacturing, robotics, energy, and sustainable architecture. The Institute has two sites: one in the Center for Life Sciences Boston building in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area, and one on Harvard's main campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Wyss Institute was launched in January 2009 with a $125 million gift to Harvard—at the time, the largest single philanthropic gift in its history—from Hansjörg Wyss.[2] In 2013, Hansjorg Wyss doubled his gift to $250 million.[3]

The Institute works as an alliance among Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Children’s Hospital Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston University, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Tufts University, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, University of Zurich, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Translating technological discoveries into commercial products and therapies is an important part of the organization's mission.


The Wyss Institute’s scientific operations are organized around six Enabling Technology Platforms that focus on development of new core technologies and capabilities that will facilitate the explosion of major R&D areas in the field of bioinspired engineering. The platforms integrate multiple faculty members with the advanced technology team, clinical experts, and industrial partners. The Institute platforms are:

  • Adaptive Material Technologies: Integrated multiscale structures composed of biomimetic materials and devices that dynamically adapt to their environments for energy and environmental applications, such as construction materials that harness energy, heat, and water
  • Anticipatory Medical and Cellular Devices: Development of controllable and dynamic devices to anticipate and detect malfunctions and infections in the body, and intervene to restore health, by taking advantage of the dynamic and changing nature of human physiology to engineer novel approaches for performance assessment, diagnosis, and therapeutic intervention
  • Bioinspired Robotics: Developing computer algorithms and sensor/actuator materials that enable robots to act collectively in response to changes in their environment, such as swarms of flying insect robots to assist dwindling bee populations
  • Synthetic Biology: Creating massively parallel capabilities for directed evolution of biomolecules and whole genomes for applications in cell reprogramming, drug delivery, regenerative medicine, and bioenergy
  • Biomimetic Microsystems: Engineering microsystem technologies that reconstitute complex human organ-level functions for use in drug testing, diagnostic and therapeutic applications
  • Programmable Nanomaterials: Creation of targetable, self-assembling nanotechnologies for regenerative medicine and drug delivery applications

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Pronounced "veese".
  2. ^ "Hansjorg Wyss gives $125 million to create institute for biologically inspired engineering". Harvard University. October 6, 2008. 
  3. ^ "Hansjorg Wyss doubles his gift". Harvard University. The Harvard Gazette. May 21, 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2015. 

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Coordinates: 42°22′52″N 71°06′59″W / 42.38122°N 71.11626°W / 42.38122; -71.11626