HSCI Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
Linda Griffith, PhD, is the second Harvard Stem Cell Institute Radcliffe Fellow.
The Harvard Stem Cell Institute and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study have collaborated to offer sponsorship for up to one Harvard Stem Cell Institute Radcliffe Fellow per year through the Radcliffe Institute's well-established and world-renowned fellowship program. HSCI is interested in supporting advanced fellowship work that involves or relates to the field of stem cell science. Radcliffe is likewise interested in expanding its fellowships' scope of interest to attract more science-related and interdisciplinary study.
Applicants with a science or math background should apply through the Natural Scientists and Mathematicians program; all others should apply through the Creative Artists, Humanists, and Social Scientists program: Radcliffe Fellowship Application. Applicants who reach the final round of selection, and who also meet the HSCI criteria will be considered for HSCI sponsorship.
As sponsor, HSCI will support the full cost of the fellowship. The Harvard Stem Cell Institute Radcliffe Fellow will be part of the Radcliffe Fellow community and will also be made a member of the HSCI community, with associated access to HSCI programs, lecture series, inter-lab meetings, etc. The Fellow will have the opportunity to interact with members of the over 75 stem cell researchers and faculty affiliated with the HSCI. The Fellow will also be invited to report to the HSCI Executive Committee and to present at HSCI events as appropriate.
2009 HSCI Radcliffe Fellow
This year, Linda Griffith, PhD, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was selected for the HSCI Radcliffe Fellowship. She will spend her sabbatical year working to integrate tissue engineering with systems biology with the aim of illuminating complex disease processes not well replicated in animal models. While at Radcliffe, she will apply this approach to endometriosis, a disease that afflicts about 10 percent of women in their childbearing years. In particular, she will develop new tools to enable the visualization of complex inflammatory networks in cell cultures from afflicted patients, revealing what is functionally different about their cells.
In the broader scope of her research program, which includes regenerative medicine and drug discovery applications, Griffith plans to use human mesenchymal stem cells and a combination of molecular engineering, nanofabrication, and microfabrication to build extracellular microenvironments to study how stem cells probe their local microenvironments and regulate their behavior by releasing growth factors, creating feedback loops that help cells adjust to external cues.
This cell-cell communication project has also been recently awarded a Transformative RO1 grant, a type of NIH grant that supports new, bold ideas that may require significant resources to pursue and need the flexibility to work in large, complex teams. The work has already begun through a foundation-supported collaborative project with Keith Isaacson, MD, gynecology surgeon at Harvard Medical School, to study the cellular processes underlying this disease, including the possible role of stem cells.
Griffith was motivated to apply for the Radcliffe Fellowship in part by her desire to raise awareness among the stem cell community of endometriosis and other women’s diseases that may have stem cell pathologies. She is looking forward to the chance to think more broadly about the societal impact of her research while taking advantage of the wide range of HSCI affiliated institutions to hold discussions not only on the science itself but on the impact that both science and society have on women’s health issues.
2007 HSCI Radcliffe Fellow
Christine L. Mummery, PhD
Senior Scientist, Hubrecht Laboratory, University of Utrecht
PhD, Biophysics, Guy's Hospital Medical School, University of London
BSc with Honors, Physics, University of Nottingham, UK
Fellowship Project Title: Engineering the right scaffold: How matrix flexibility may determine cardiac cell fate
Summary: To address the question of whether cell fate during the differentiation of stem cells to cardiomyocytes is controlled by the physical properties of the environment by engineering substrates of different elasticity and determining which cell types are formed. The purpose is to improve mass production of heart cells with the right properties for future drug screens and transplantation.
Collaborations: Dr. Kit Parker, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University; Dr. Ken Chien, Director, MGH Cardiovascular Research Center
"We warmly welcome the expertise Dr. Mummery has to offer on the differentiation of stem cells into cardiomyocytes and their expansion in culture into our groups at Harvard and look forward to integrating our skills in tissue engineering, cardiac physiology, and cardiac development with hers to advance this field towards new cell-based therapies and biomarker discovery." - Dr. Kenneth Chien, MD PhD; Director, MGH Cardiovascular Research Center; Charles Addison and Elizabeth Ann Sanders Professor; Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Principal Faculty, Harvard Stem Cell Institute
Dr. Mummery was the keynote speaker at the inaugural HSCI Cardiovascular Program Think Tank on Monday, April 30, 2007 at the Radcliffe Gym. Christine presented on "Cardiomyocyte differentiation of human embryonic stem cells: transplantation, development and disease."