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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Jennifer Elisseeff, 28

Medicine

John Hopkins University

Jennifer Elisseeff is shining light on better ways to repair human tissue. While getting her doctorate in medical engineering from the Harvard University-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Elisseeff designed a liquid polymer that can keep cartilage cells alive. In patients, the polymer hardens into a hydrogel—a scaffold on which the cells can develop into new tissue. Normally, surgeons have to cut open a patient to insert such a polymer, and shine light on it to induce it to harden. Elisseeff wondered if she could devise a polymer that hardened under minimal light. That way, surgeons could simply inject the compound and shine a light through the skin to trigger solidification, obviating the need for surgery. Her experiments with mice and rats succeeded. Now, Advanced Tissue Sciences of La Jolla, CA, is investigating the polymer as a way to repair everything from ruined knees to facial damage. Meanwhile, Elisseeff is impregnating hydrogels with stem cells—which can mature into different human cells—to try to create a new form of cartilage replacement. “So little is known about stem cells,” she says. “It’s very exciting.”

2002 TR35 Winners

Ewan Birney

Biotechnology

Fiona Brinkman

Biotechnology

Chris Burge

Biotechnology

Benjamin Cravatt

Biotechnology

Nathaniel David

Biotechnology

Susan Hagness

Medicine

Derek Hansford

Materials

J. Joseph Kim

Medicine

Steven Laken

Medicine

Kelvin Lee

Medicine

Milan Mrksich

Materials

Stephen OConnor

Biotechnology

Alexander Olek

Biotechnology

Vijay Pande

Biotechnology

Stephen Quake

Materials

David Sabatini

Biotechnology

John Santini

Medicine

David Schaffer

Medicine

Christoph Westphal

Biotechnology

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