The university is organized into ten schools, including two undergraduate programs and eight graduate divisions, on four campuses in Massachusetts and the French Alps. The university emphasizes active citizenship and public service in all of its disciplines and is known for its internationalism and study abroad programs. Among its schools is the United States’ oldest graduate school of international relations, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Tufts College was founded in 1852 by Christian Universalists who worked for years to open a non-sectarian institution of higher learning. Charles Tufts donated the land for the campus on Walnut Hill, the highest point in Medford, saying that he wanted to set a “light on the hill.” The name was changed to Tufts University in 1954, although the corporate name remains “the Trustees of Tufts College.” For more than a century, Tufts was a small New England liberal arts college. The French-American nutritionist Jean Mayer became president of Tufts in the late 1970s and, through a series of rapid acquisitions, transformed the school into an internationally renowned research university. It is known as both a Little Ivy and a “New Ivy” and consistently ranks among the nation’s top schools.
Tufts University research articles from Innovation Toronto
- Biocompatible silk keeps fruit fresh without refrigeration – May 7, 2016
- Silk and Ceramics Offer Hope for Long-term Repair of Joint Injuries – September 26, 2015
- Inkjet Inks Made of Bioactive Silk Could Yield Smart Bandages, Bacteria-Sensing Surgical Gloves & More – June 19, 2015
- Planarian Regeneration Model Discovered by Artificial Intelligence – June 5, 2015
- 3-D engineered bone marrow makes functioning platelets – February 20, 2015
- Scientists’ unique system of oral vaccine delivery to address global health threats – December 27, 2014
- World’s first man-made photosynthetic ‘leaf’ could produce oxygen for astronauts – August 1, 2014
- Fabricating Nanostructures with Silk Could Make Clean Rooms Green Rooms
- Printable ‘bionic’ ear melds electronics and biology
- It’s Electric: Biologists Seek to Crack Cell’s Bioelectric Code
- Bioelectric Signals Can Be Used to Detect Early Cancer
- New collagen scaffolding technique to benefit tissue engineering
- Implantable Silk Optics Multi-Task in the Body
- Eco-friendly Optics: Spider Silk’s Hidden Talents Brought to Light for Applications in Biosensors, Lasers, Microchips
- Would You Infect Yourself With Worms For Better Health?
- A Computer Interface that Takes a Load Off Your Mind
- Catalysts for Less
- Edible Silk Sensors To Monitor Your Food
- Silk microneedles are claimed to better-deliver medication
- Changes in Bioelectric Signals Trigger Formation of New Organs
- Caterpillars and the next generation of rolling robots
- Soft-bodied robot owes its moves to starfish and squid
- Energy Economics: What Will Turn Us On in 2030?
- World’s Smallest Electric Motor Made from a Single Molecule
- New Way to Treat Common Hospital-Acquired Infection
- Caterpillars and the next generation of rolling robots
- Is a Food Revolution Now in Season?
- New Key to Tissue Regeneration
- The Silk Renaissance
- MIT Top 10 Technologies Likely to Change the World
- ‘Digital Skills Divide’ Emerging
A two-dimensional material developed by Bayreuth physicist Prof. Dr. Axel Enders together with international partners could revolutionize electronics.
Semiconductors that are as thin as an atom are no longer the stuff of science fiction. Bayreuth physicist Prof. Dr. Axel Enders, together with partners in Poland and the US, has developed a two-dimensional material that could revolutionize electronics. Thanks to its semiconductor properties, this material could be much better suited for high tech applications than graphene, the discovery of which in 2004 was celebrated worldwide as a scientific breakthrough. This new material contains carbon, boron, and nitrogen, and its chemical name is “Hexagonal Boron-Carbon-Nitrogen (h-BCN)”. The new development was published in the journal ACS Nano.
“Our findings could be the starting point for a new generation of electronic transistors, circuits, and sensors that are much smaller and more bendable than the electronic elements used to date. They are likely to enable a considerable decrease in power consumption,” Prof. Enders predicts, citing the CMOS technology that currently dominates the electronics industry. This technology has clear limits with regard to further miniaturization. “h-BCN is much better suited than graphene when it comes to pushing these limits,” according to Enders.
Graphene is a two-dimensional lattice made up entirely of carbon atoms. It is thus just as thin as a single atom. Once scientists began investigating these structures more closely, their remarkable properties were greeted with enthusiasm across the world. Graphene is 100 to 300 times stronger than steel and is, at the same time, an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. However, electrons are able to flow through unhindered at any applied voltage such that there is no defined on-position or off-position. “For this reason, graphene is not well suited for most electronic devices. Semiconductors are required, since only they can ensure switchable on and off states,” Prof. Enders explained. He had the idea of replacing individual carbon atoms in graphene with boron and nitrogen, resulting in a two-dimensional grid with the properties of a semiconductor. He has now been able to turn this idea into reality with his team of scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Research partners at the University of Cracow, the State University of New York, Boston College, and Tufts University also contributed to this achievement.
Machine-learning predicts never-before-seen cancer-like phenotype
Scientists from Tufts University’s School of Arts and Sciences, the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County have used artificial intelligence to gain insight into the biophysics of cancer. Their machine-learning platform predicted a trio of reagents that was able to generate a never-before-seen cancer-like phenotype in tadpoles. The research, reported in Scientific Reports on January 27, shows how (AI) can help human researchers in fields such as oncology and regenerative medicine control complex biological systems to reach new and previously unachievable outcomes.
The researchers had previously shown that pigment cells (melanocytes) in developing frogs could be converted to a cancer-like, metastatic form by disrupting their normal bioelectric and serotonergic signaling and had used AI to reverse-engineer a model that explained this complex process. However, during these extensive experiments, the biologists observed something remarkable: All the melanocytes in a single frog larva either converted to the cancer-like form or remained completely normal. Conversion of only some of the pigment cells in a single tadpole was never seen; how, the researchers asked, could such an all-or-none coordination of cells across the tadpole body be explained and controlled?
In the new study, the researchers asked their AI-derived model to answer the question of how to achieve partial melanocyte conversion within the same animal using one or more interventions.
“We wanted to see if we could break the concordance among cells, which would help us understand how cells make group decisions and determine complex body-wide outcomes,” said the paper’s corresponding author, Michael Levin, Ph.D., Vannevar Bush professor of biology and director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts and the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology.
The AI model ultimately predicted that a precise combination of three reagents (altanserin, a 5HTR2 inhibitor; reserpine, a VMAT inhibitor, and VP16-XlCreb1, mRNA encoding constitutively active CREB) would achieve that outcome. When this pharmaceutical cocktail was used in vivo on real tadpoles, the result was, in fact, conversion of melanocytes in some regions but not others within individual frog larvae—something never before seen.
“Our system predicted a three-component treatment, which we’d never have come up with on our own, that achieved the exact outcome we wanted, and which we hadn’t seen before in years of diverse experiments. Such approaches are a key step for regenerative medicine, where a major obstacle is the fact that it is usually very hard to know how to manipulate the complex networks discovered by bioinformatics and wet lab experiments in such a way as to reach a desired therapeutic outcome,” said Levin.
He added, “Much of biomedicine boils down to this: We have a complex biological system, and a ton of data on what various perturbations have been seen to do to it. Now we want to do something different–cure a disease, control cell behavior, regenerate tissue. For almost any problem where a lot of data are available, we can use this model-discovery platform to find a model and then interrogate it to see what we have to do to achieve result X.”
For the new research, the system used the AI-discovered model to run 576 virtual experiments, each computationally simulating 100 times the development of an embryo under a different novel combination of drugs; 575 failed to yield the hoped for result. But one precise combination of three drugs was the proverbial needle in the experimental haystack, predicting partial melanocyte conversion.
“Even with the full model describing the exact mechanism that controls the system, a human scientist alone would not have been able to find the exact combination of drugs that would result in the desired outcome. This provides proof-of-concept of how an artificial intelligence system can help us find the exact interventions necessary to obtain a specific result,” said the paper’s first author, Daniel Lobo, Ph.D., formerly of the Levin laboratory and now assistant professor of biology and computer science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Joining Levin and Lobo in authoring the paper was Maria Lobikin, Ph.D., formerly of the Levin laboratory and now a scientist at Homology Medicines Inc.
The computer model predicted the percentage of tadpoles that would retain completely normal melanocytes within 1 percent of the in vivo results while aggregating the percentage of tadpoles that showed partial or total conversion in vivo. Plans for future research include extending the platform to incorporate time-series data that will enable even more accurate comparisons between computer and in vivo models.
Researchers also hope to extend the approach to other aspects of regenerative medicine by discovering interventions that help reprogram tumors, kick start regeneration and control stem cell dynamics. Levin noted that taming physiological networks like the one responsible for melanocyte conversion will require increasingly complex computational and mathematical modeling techniques and data representation, as well as new laboratory techniques in order to increase the ability to quantify information in vivo, especially in human patients.
Process enables creation of mechanical components with functionality, such as surgical pins that change color with strain
Tufts University engineers have created a new format of solids made from silk protein that can be preprogrammed with biological, chemical, or optical functions, such as mechanical components that change color with strain, deliver drugs, or respond to light, according to a paper published online this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Using a water-based fabrication method based on protein self-assembly, the researchers generated three-dimensional bulk materials out of silk fibroin, the protein that gives silk its durability. Then they manipulated the bulk materials with water-soluble molecules to create multiple solid forms, from the nano- to the micro-scale, that have embedded, pre-designed functions.
A silk fibroin screw can be heated to 160 C when exposed to infrared light. Source: Silk Lab.For example, the researchers created a surgical pin that changes color as it nears its mechanical limits and is about to fail, functional screws that can be heated on demand in response to infrared light, and a biocompatible component that enables the sustained release of bioactive agents, such as enzymes.
Although more research is needed, additional applications could include new mechanical components for orthopedics that can be embedded with growth factors or enzymes, a surgical screw that changes color as it reaches its torque limits, hardware such as nuts and bolts that sense and report on the environmental conditions of their surroundings, or household goods that can be remolded or reshaped.
Silk’s unique crystalline structure makes it one of nature’s toughest materials. Fibroin, an insoluble protein found in silk, has a remarkable ability to protect other materials while being fully biocompatible and biodegradable.
“The ability to embed functional elements in biopolymers, control their self-assembly, and modify their ultimate form creates significant opportunities for bio-inspired fabrication of high-performing multifunctional materials,” said senior and corresponding study author Fiorenzo G. Omenetto, Ph.D. Omenetto is the Frank C. Doble Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts University’s School of Engineering and also has an appointment in the Department of Physics in the School of Arts and Sciences.
Advances could pave way for new generation of implantable and wearable diagnostics
For the first time, researchers led by Tufts University engineers have integrated nano-scale sensors, electronics and microfluidics into threads – ranging from simple cotton to sophisticated synthetics – that can be sutured through multiple layers of tissue to gather diagnostic data wirelessly in real time, according to a paper published online July 18 in Microsystems & Nanoengineering. The research suggests that the thread-based diagnostic platform could be an effective substrate for a new generation of implantable diagnostic devices and smart wearable systems.
The researchers used a variety of conductive threads that were dipped in physical and chemical sensing compounds and connected to wireless electronic circuitry to create a flexible platform that they sutured into tissue in rats as well as in vitro. The threads collected data on tissue health (e.g. pressure, stress, strain and temperature), pH and glucose levels that can be used to determine such things as how a wound is healing, whether infection is emerging, or whether the body’s chemistry is out of balance. The results were transmitted wirelessly to a cell phone and computer.
The three-dimensional platform is able to conform to complex structures such as organs, wounds or orthopedic implants.
Researchers at Tufts University have stabilized blood samples for long periods of time without refrigeration and at high temperatures by encapsulating them in air-dried silk protein.
The technique, which is published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has broad applications for clinical care and research that rely on accurate analysis of blood and other biofluids.
Blood contains proteins, enzymes, lipids, metabolites, and peptides that serve as biomarkers for health screening, monitoring and diagnostics. Both research and clinical care often require blood to be collected outside a laboratory. However, unless stored at controlled temperatures, these biomarkers rapidly deteriorate, jeopardizing the accuracy of subsequent laboratory analysis. Existing alternative collection and storage solutions, such as drying blood on paper cards, still fail to effectively protect biomarkers from heat and humidity.
The Tufts scientists successfully mixed a solution or a powder of purified silk fibroin protein extracted from silkworm cocoons with blood or plasma and air-dried the mixture. The air-dried silk films were stored at temperatures between 22 and 45 degrees C (71.6 to 113 degrees F). At set intervals, encapsulated blood samples were recovered by dissolving the films in water and analyzed.
“This approach should facilitate outpatient blood collection for disease screening and monitoring, particularly for underserved populations, and also serve needs of researchers and clinicians without access to centralized testing facilities. For example, this could support large-scale epidemiologic studies or remote pharmacological trials,” said senior and corresponding author David L. Kaplan, Ph.D., Stern Family Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts School of Engineering.