TED Fellow and Tissue Engineer
Nina Tandon studies electrical signaling in the context of tissue engineering, with the goal of creating “spare parts” for human implantation and/or disease models. She is an electrical and biomedical engineer at Columbia University's Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, and adjunct professor of Electrical Engineering at the Cooper Union, teaching a "Bioelectricity" class. Fast Company named her one of their 100 most creative people in business.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Cooper Union,Tandon spent her early career in telecom (Avaya Labs) and transitioned into biomedical engineering via her Fulbright scholarship in Italy, where she worked on an electronic nose used to “smell” lung cancer. Tandon studied electrical stimulation for cardiac tissue engineering at MIT and Columbia, and now continues her research on electrical stimulation for broader tissue-engineering applications.
Nina Tandon believes that the era of engineered tissues -- like, for example, a replacement kidney grown in the lab -- is just beginning. In this talk, Tandon shows us how we (and our bodies) have lived through most of history (Body 1.0), and then how we evolved into "cyborgs" with implants (such as pacemakers and artificial joints, Body 2.0). Now, Body 3.0 is all about growing our OWN body parts. For her Ph.D. thesis, Tandon grew cardiac cells that beat like tiny hearts. In this thrilling and eye-opening talk, she explains the process of growing tissue and transplants, and the future of medical science. With the help of manufacturing and information technology, we are on the verge of being able to grow human tissue--and Tandon is here to walk us through this unbelievably exciting era.
Our Cells, Ourselves
Nina Tandon studies ways to use electrical signals to grow artificial tissues for transplants and other therapies. For the purpose of re-growing tissue, traditional cell culture techniques just really aren't enough. In eye-opening talks, Tandon explains how she and her team are using a breakthrough cell model—called the biominetic paradigm—that mimicks the natural environments of the cells, to help them thrive better. What does this mean for us?
In this interactive and visually engaging keynote, Tandon shares lessons learned in the lab: that life can do a lot with very little, and cells do all the work. She reminds us that cells are not an abstract concept: cells sustain our lives in a very real way. "We are what we eat," could easily be described as, "We are what our cells eat." And in the case of the flora in our gut, these cells may not even be human. But it's also worth noting that cells also mediate our experience of life. Behind every sound, sight, touch, taste and smell is a corresponding set of cells that receive this information and interpret it for us. It begs the question: shall we expand our sense of environmental stewardship to include the ecosystem of our own bodies? Tandon shares insights that leave her audience with a much deeper understanding of their cells—and by association, themselves.
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