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Róisín M. Owens

Professor
Biochemistry
MIT School of Engineering
United States Minor Outlying Islands

Biography

Dr. Róisín M. Owens received her BA in Natural Sciences (Mod. Biochemistry) at Trinity College Dublin, and her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Southampton University. She carried out two postdoc fellowships at Cornell University, on host-pathogen interactions of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the dept. of Microbiology and Immunology with Prof. David Russell, and on rhinovirus therapeutics in the dept. of Biomedical Engineering with Prof. Moonsoo Jin. From 2009-2017 she was a group leader in the dept. of bioelectronics at Ecole des Mines de St. Etienne, on the microelectronics campus in Provence. Her current research centers on application of organic electronic materials for monitoring biological systems in vitro, with a specific interest in studying the gut-brain-microbiome axis. She has received several awards including the European Research Council starting (2011), proof of concept grant (2014) and consolidator (2016) grants, a Marie Curie fellowship, and an EMBO fellowship. In 2014, she became principle editor for biomaterials for MRS communications (Cambridge University Press), and she serves on the advisory board of Advanced BioSystems and Journal of Applied Polymer Science (Wiley). She is author of 50+ publications

Research Interest

My research program is centered on harnessing the power of engineering for developing in vitro biological models. By developing both the biological model and the adapted monitoring methods in parallel, both may be iteratively improved resulting in enhanced systems. I define the latter combination as in vitro systems: an integrated system to monitor human biology in vitro. Specifically, I have focused on the use of electroactive materials and devices which bridge a gap between hard inflexible materials used for physical transducers and soft, compliant biological tissues, allowing a new understanding of how to probe biological systems in the least invasive and thus most biomimetic fashion possible. The three major strands of my research portfolio are: 1.       Basic understanding of the interface of biological materials with transducers 2.       Development of 3D models with integrated fluidics and electronics 3.       Use of 3D in vitro systems to answer specific questions related to human pathology

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