WNSF: Just for You: 3D-Printed Tissues & Other Biotech Wonders

Andrew Hessel, Distinguished Research Scientist at Autodesk Life Sciences says new biomedical technologies are on the cusp of dramatically impacting not only healthcare and how we treat disease, but life itself. We’re hearing about pending breakthroughs in editing DNA, stem cells that regenerate damaged tissue, and drugs designed to precisely target an individual’s disease. If this sounds like science fiction, it is—but probably not for long. Scientists like synthetic biologist Andrew Hessel are working to make these and other eye-popping new technologies real.

Andrew believes that synthetic biology will one day rival and fuse with traditional IT, with the emerging hybrid emphasizing personalized applications for people to control their own health and biology. He also is a leading voice on the dangers posed by these potent new technologies—which he has written about in The Atlantic and in other publications—although he remains optimistic that synthetic biology will ultimately be used for good.

One idea Andrew is exploring through his role as Distinguished Researcher at Autodesk is using 3D-printing technologies to create drugs, viral therapeutics, and tissue on demand – personalized according to a person’s specific DNA. Andrew also teaches graduate students and executives as the co-chair of Bioinformatics and Biotechnology at Singularity University. Additionally, he co-founded the Pink Army Cooperative, which explored the idea of using small contributions and a large, distributed community to research and create open source, viral therapies for cancer.