December 2018

Dear members of the MIT Community,

Thank you for the enthusiastic input in response to my question last month about maximizing the global impact of the Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing. Many alumni emphasized the need to infuse MIT’s newest innovation with our most deeply held values. Darcy Prather ’91 said the college poses an amazing opportunity to transform how technology is embedded across disciplines. Tom Ransohoff ’84 wrote: “I believe our greatest challenge is to understand how we can integrate humanity with technological advances.” Gerald Maloney ’55 said MIT should be known for both “technological excellence” and our “role as change agent for the betterment of humanity in the broadest sense.”

I am excited to report that we continue to meet and advance that challenge. Faculty members from across MIT gathered on Nov. 14 to discuss the possibilities ahead for J-Clinic, the Abdul Latif Jameel Clinic for Machine Learning in Health. They shared their passion for advancing research and technologies at the intersection of machine learning and human health. It was remarkable to witness such heartfelt commitment to making a positive global impact. We will strive to make J-Clinic a unifying force in those efforts.

With winter at our door, The Infinite includes articles that emphasize health and wellness. Professor Eric Alm describes the mysteries of the human microbiome in a Q&A. Assistant professor Lydia Bourouiba explains how investigating fluid dynamics could unlock our understanding of how diseases spread. Assistant professor Ellen Roche shares her story of bridging mechanical engineering and medicine to develop revolutionary medical devices. We also learn about a student group that is helping an MIT employee with deteriorating vision with MIT-style ingenuity.

My question for you this month: “Which areas of energy research do you think hold the most promise for global impact?”


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Anantha P. Chandrakasan

Dean, MIT School of Engineering

Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

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3Q: Eric Alm on the mysteries of the human microbiome

“A diet or treatment of the microbiome may lead to increased diversity but that does not mean it's better or healthier for you,” says Alm, says the engineering professor.

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Potential arthritis treatment prevents cartilage breakdown

Injectable material made of nanoscale particles can deliver arthritis drugs throughout cartilage.

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Student group helps blind boater sail independently

Four seniors in Principles and Practices of Assistive Technology designed an audible tell-tale to help MIT employee navigate on the water.

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Blending medicine and mechanical engineering

Assistant Professor Ellen Roche develops revolutionary medical devices through research at the crossroads of medical science and engineering.

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A simple urine test could diagnose bacterial pneumonia

Results could also indicate whether antibiotics have successfully treated the infection.

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The dynamics of disease transmission

"Fluids are everywhere," says Professor Lydia Bourouiba, "and pathogens are always in fluids." Investigating fluid dynamics could unlock our understanding of how diseases spread. 

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Healthy eating made easy

Startup PlateJoy sends users personalized meal plans to help them achieve health goals.