Mehmet Toner, Ph.D.

AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 1999
For cutting-edge contributions in the field of cryobiology, tissue engineering, and microtechnology.

4 Ways Engineers Aim to Save Lives During COVID-19

Via Futurity | April 20, 2020

Researchers are pivoting their work to tackle the many engineering problems associated with the global coronavirus pandemic.


Researchers are working to develop a rapid and reliable test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The currently available tests look for the presence of SARS-CoV-2’s viral RNA, a unique and identifying genetic code. Building on previous research, the new test is fundamentally different: it detects and counts individual SARS-CoV-2 viruses by capturing them with antibodies.

The primary benefit of this approach is that its testing mechanism doesn’t require extensive sample preparation.

It also reduces the chance of false negative results. Viruses can mutate, but the currently available tests rely on knowing specific genetic sequences of the virus to detect it. So, if the coronavirus mutates within one of those sequences, a current test could report a false negative — which happened during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, making it difficult to accurately diagnose who was sick and contain the outbreak.

The new test uses a different set of supplies than the existing test, leaving it less prone to supply chain shortages than the current method, says Selim Ünlü, a professor of electrical, computer, materials science, and biomedical engineering, who is teaming up with John Connor, associate professor of microbiology at the School of Medicine, from the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories, and Mehmet Toner of Massachusetts General Hospital to develop the test… Read the full article.

National Academy of Medicine Elects 100 New Members

Via National Academy of Medicine | October 21, 2019

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) today announced the election of 90 regular members and 10 international members during its annual meeting. Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

“These newly elected members represent the most exceptional scholars and leaders whose remarkable work has advanced science, medicine, and health in the U.S. and around the globe,” said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau. “Their expertise will be vital to addressing today’s most pressing health and scientific challenges and informing the future of health and medicine for the benefit of us all. I am honored to welcome these esteemed individuals to the National Academy of Medicine.”

Mehmet Toner, Ph.D., Helen Andrus Benedict Professor, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown. For creating microfluidic devices with “real life” clinical applications in cancer diagnosis, prenatal diagnosis, regenerative medicine, and tissue engineering… Continue reading.

Microfluidic device captures, allows analysis of tumor-specific extracellular vesicles

Via EurekAlert | February 27, 2018

A new microfluidic device developed by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) may help realize the potential of tumor-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) – tiny lipid particles that carry molecules through the bloodstream – as biomarkers that could monitor a tumor’s response to therapy and provide detailed information to guide treatment choice. In their report published earlier this year in Nature Communications, the team from the MGH Center for Engineering in Medicine (MGH-CEM) describes how EVs captured from serum or plasma samples of patients with the dangerous brain tumor glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) provided detailed, tumor-specific genetic and molecular information.

“Glioblastoma is a highly fatal disease with few treatment options,” says senior author Shannon Stott, PhD, of the MGH Cancer Center and the BioMEMS Resource Center in the MGH-CEM. “Due to the tumor’s location, it has been challenging to get dynamic, real-time molecular information, which limits the ability to determine tumor progression and to match patients with the most promising new therapies. Our device’s ability to sort tumor-specific EVs out from the billions of EVs carried through the bloodstream may lead to the development of much-needed diagnostic and monitoring tools for this and other hard-to-treat cancers… Continue reading.