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Since Watson and Crick’s discovery of the structure of DNA, the pace of scientific discovery in life sciences has grown exponentially. This is partly due to the amazing development of technologies, especially in the areas of data acquisition and data analysis.

The advent of microarray technologies, nanotechnology and DNA sequencing techniques have generated massive amounts of data, which would have taken lifetimes to be processed without the power of computers. It has been said that life sciences will be the most computer-intensive scientific field of the 21st century.

The challenges to analyze such data may be recent in the field of life sciences, but tools and solutions already existed in the fields of engineering, mathematics, statistics and computer science. Presented here is a small subset of examples that show how several engineering fields can come together to bring solutions for life sciences’ challenges.

High-tech Glasses Help Surgeons Visualize Cancer Cells

Breast surgeon Julie Margenthaler, MD, used the high-tech glasses on February 10 this year to remove a lymph node from a patient. Cancer cells are notoriously difficult to see, even under high-powered magnification, and surgeons must often remove neighboring tissue that may not include cancer …

Needle-free vaccines are pain free and cost effective

Two exciting new alternatives to needle and syringe vaccines could have a considerable impact on global health. One such method is the Nanopatch™, a fingertip-sized patch covered in thousands of vaccine-coated microscopic spikes, developed by Professor Mark Kendall and his research team at the University …

3-D Printing of Body Parts – an Update

Some of the most exciting news in medical research involves the 3D printing of body parts. Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a bioprinting method that creates …

New Cochlear Implant Requires No Exterior Hardware

Cochlear implants, around for about 30 years, have allowed more than 200,000 deaf people to obtain various degrees of hearing. Although the cochlear implants are among the most successful hearing devices available, the hardware that makes them work can be stigmatizing and downright annoying. Existing …

Bionic hand allows amputee to feel again

Dennis Aabo Sørensen lost his left hand after a firework exploded during a New Year’s Eve celebration in 2004. Nine years later, he took part in a clinical study where he was fitted with a prosthetic (bionic) hand. Researchers implanted tiny electrodes into his left …

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