Sangeeta Bhatia of MIT named for 2015 Heinz Award

Indian origin scientist Sangeeta Bhatia from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been named the recipient of the 2015 Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy, and Employment.

She has been named for the prestigious $2,50,000 Heinz award in recognition of her work in tissue engineering and disease detection. Bhatia developed artificial human microlivers for drug testing.

The awards are given annually in recognition of the extraordinary contributions of individuals in the fields of arts and humanities; environment; human condition; public policy; and technology, the economy, and employment.

''This type of recognition helps to bring science into the public eye so that everyone can appreciate the dedication and innovation that is happening in laboratories all over the country,'' said Bhatia, the John J and Dorothy Wilson professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Bhatia's team pioneered the fabrication of artificial human microlivers that many biopharmaceutical companies are using to test the toxicity of drug candidates.

Bhatia is also using microlivers in the lab to model malaria infection and test drugs that could completely eradicate malaria parasites. She hopes to eventually develop implantable liver tissue that would complement or substitute whole-organ transplant.

Bhatia would receive her award on 13 May at a ceremony in Pittsburgh.

Microliver, a miniature model organ, makes it possible to test drug reactions efficiently and predictively, and could eventually lead to creating an artificial human liver.

The 20th Heinz Awards in other categories are:

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Roz Chast (Illustrator and prolific cartoonist)
  • Environment: Dr Frederica Perera
  • Human Condition: William McNulty and Jacob Wood (Founders of the nonprofit organization Team Rubicon)
  • Public Policy: Dr Aaron Wolf (Professor at Oregon State University)