January 10, 2022

Ritu Raman

Harvard Book Store, the Harvard University Division of Science, and the Harvard Library welcome acclaimed engineer RITU RAMAN—the d’Arbeloff Career Development Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT—for a discussion of her book Biofabrication. She will be joined in conversation by JERMEY MATTHEWS, senior acquisitions editor at The MIT Press. 


You are a biological machine whose movement is powered by skeletal muscle, just as a car is a machine whose movement is powered by an engine. If you can be built from the bottom up with biological materials, other machines can be as well. This is the conceptual starting point for biofabrication, the act of building with living cells—building with biology in the same way we build with synthetic materials. In this volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series, Ritu Raman offers an accessible introduction to biofabrication, arguing that it can address some of our greatest technological challenges.

After presenting the background information needed to understand the emergence and evolution of biofabrication and describing the fundamental technology that enables building with biology, Raman takes deep dives into four biofabrication applications that have the potential to affect our daily lives: tissue engineering, organs-on-a-chip, lab-grown meat and leather, and biohybrid machines. Organs-on-a-chip (devices composed of miniature model tissues), for example, could be used to test new medicine and therapies, and lab-grown meat could alleviate environmental damage done by animal farming. She shows that biological materials have abilities synthetic materials do not, including the ability to adapt dynamically to their environments. Exploring the principles of biofabrication, Raman tells us, should help us appreciate the beauty, adaptiveness, and persistence of the biological machinery that drives our bodies and our world.

About Author(s)

Ritu Raman, PhD is the d’Arbeloff Career Development Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. Her lab is centered on engineering adaptive living materials for applications in medicine and machines. Prof. Raman has received several recognitions for scientific innovation, including being named a Kavli Fellow by the National Academy of Sciences and being named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 and MIT Technology Review 35 Innovators Under 35 lists. She is passionate about increasing diversity in STEM and has championed many initiatives to empower women in science, including being named a AAAS IF/THEN ambassador and founding the Women in Innovation and STEM Database at MIT (WISDM).

Jermey Matthews joined the MIT Press after working for nine years as a science writer and the book reviews editor for Physics Today magazine. He holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a master's and a PhD degree in chemical engineering. His current focus is on trade books and textbooks in physics, astronomy, chemistry, materials science, mechanical, chemical and civil engineering, and mathematics.