In our latest show as part of 'Inspires by EM', we explore MIT researcher Ritu Raman's journey of STEM innovation and education
Guwahati: Dr Ritu Raman, a mechanical engineer who is a postdoctoral fellow in the renowned Langer Lab at MIT, talked about biohybrid designs, implantable robots and the innovation it can and is bringing about into the world, whether in the field of technology or medicine.
Raman was part of EastMojo's show 'Inspires by EM' on Saturday evening.
Growing up in India, Kenya and the United States, Raman is currently a researcher at MIT, studying biohybrids, biological materials and robotics. She is and has always been passionate about STEM as an academic disciple and her goal is to involve more and more women into taking up STEM careers and for them to be recognised as fore-frontiers in the said fields.
During the exclusive interview, she spoke very passionately about bio-hybrid designs and integrating biological materials into the machines that are being built today that will help make these machines better suitable to adapt to its changing surroundings due to its biological nature.
Raman, a mechanical engineer, got into studying biohybrid designs when she was working in a biologically focused lab during her initial years and realised that the human body is kind of a machine and so is every living thing around us and taking materials from these natural machines and putting them in the ones being built can be revolutionary.
Being asked about its usage in medical science, she spoke about precision medicine or individualised medicines and says just how not everybody responds the same way to same doses of medication, something like a pump powered by biological materials like muscles if built, can give out a specific amount of drug needed by a particular body also just by sensing its surrounding. This is the kind of thing, scientists and doctors will be able to achieve using biological materials within the next 50 years.
Talking about medical implementations, she mentioned pill sized devices being built and researched upon which can replace regular medicines that requires to be taken at regular intervals. Such devices can sit inside a body giving out regular doses of medicine. She also talked about robots or biologically powered machines which can be useful in treating illnesses like cancer by staging the doses delivered to a tumor.
Chemotherapy, as we know it, might have negative reactions on the rest of the body, and with technologies as such, maybe in the future we can have drugs pumped directly into a tumor or certain areas of the body and build machines that can sense its surroundings and use a feedback mechanism to control the doses. It is possible to work biological materials in such ways.
“We already have something called self therapy in a few different fields like diabetes and not only cancer, where the cells that we put inside the body are able to sense and react to very specific cues that are occurring inside the body and they are very sensitive to what’s happening to an individual person and they respond to them specifically. So they are not pre-programmed but they are reprogrammed,” she said.
When asked about some of the implantable devices that we can have in the future, she said that “after wearable, the next wave is going to be things that can go inside the body and sense the markers and bio markers and sense any pathological condition. We are probably looking at a lot more patches and micro invasive needles or probes inserted into our skin.”
“We are technically not too far from getting such devices but what we need to think about is how we power them and keep them reliably functioning.” she added.
Watch the full interview of Ritu Raman in 'Inspires by EM' here: