Current Title, Department, Employer:
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Member of the Faculty, Harvard Medical School

Brief Bio:
2023 – Faculty, BIDMC at HMS
2020-2022 – Research Associate, Wyss Institute at Harvard University
2017-2020 – Postdoctoral Fellow, Wyss Institute at Harvard University
2011-2017 – PhD, University of Pennsylvania
2007-2011 – BS, University of Rochester

Who have been your mentors?
Early on in my undergraduate career at the University of Rochester and National Institutes of Health, I had enthusiastic and dedicated research mentors, as I conducted orthopaedic research with Dr. Amy Lerner, Dr. Edward Schwarz, and Dr. Francis Sheehan-Gavelli. These experiences led me to Penn for graduate school under the mentorship of Dr. Lou Soslowsky and a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering with Dr. David Mooney.

What are your specific research areas and expertise?
My research focuses on the design and synthesis of biomaterials to improve the repair of biological tissues, with a special focus in orthopaedics. The goal of these multifunctional biomaterials is to provide an adhesive interface to anchor scaffolds directly to tissue surfaces, create niche environments to maintain tendon derived cell homeostasis, and serve as drug delivery systems for therapeutics to improve tissue healing. My bioengineering foundation has been enriched by new training in medical device translation and technology transfer through participation in several technology innovation mentoring programs.

What are you currently working on?
We have several ongoing projects at the interface of tendon, aging, biomaterials, and therapeutic delivery. In particular, one project is looking to develop new biomaterials to deliver cells to help heal tendons better during aging.

What has been the biggest challenge for you in your research?
Our biggest challenge lies in bridging the gap between fundamental scientific exploration and practical application in real-life medical settings. Despite our primary focus on basic scientific research, we are actively striving to ensure that our discoveries don’t remain solely theoretical but actually find their way from laboratory experiments to directly benefit patients. This involves concerted efforts to translate our fundamental findings into tangible solutions that can be used in clinical practice, thus making a meaningful impact on healthcare. Strategies such as collaborating with clinicians, engaging in translational research, and exploring practical applications of our discoveries are some ways we’re working to overcome this challenge.

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What project(s) are you looking forward to in the near future?
I’m eager to dive into various projects that challenge the norm and open doors to unexpected discoveries. Sometimes, the most exciting breakthroughs emerge from projects that initially weren’t part of the plan. While these projects might not be mapped out yet, the thrill lies in the potential for findings that could significantly impact our understanding or applications in various fields. However, it’s important to note that even unplanned projects require thoughtful consideration, scientific rigor, and careful decision-making to ensure their success and validity.

What do you want to do next in your career?
As our lab opened its doors in January 2023, the initial focus has been on establishing functionality and initiating experiments. Looking ahead, the next phase centers on fostering an environment that cultivates and supports the growth of new trainees. It’s about creating an ecosystem that facilitates learning, offers mentorship, and ultimately contributes significantly to advancements in our field.

What advice would you give young investigators in the field?
I believe several key insights are crucial for young investigators. Consider these pointers:
1. Embrace diverse experiences beyond your immediate research focus. Unforeseen discoveries often arise from such ventures. Additionally, individuals you encounter might evolve into future collaborators.
2. Mentorship is pivotal for professional growth, manifesting in various forms. Prior to initiating a mentor-mentee relationship, openly discuss your objectives and expectations. Acknowledge the necessity for multiple mentors and pinpoint areas where mentorship could enhance your progress. Equally important is the earnest mentoring of younger peers, recognizing the reciprocal impact and learning potential.
3. Establish both short and long-term goals. Envision where you aim to be in the next month versus the next decade, and actively plan your current actions to align with these objectives. While plans may evolve, maintaining a strategic vision is essential.
4. Approach novel endeavors with experiments designed to accommodate initial failure. This approach allows for swift and frequent iterations, fostering rapid learning and adaptation.”

When you’re not in the lab, what do you like to do for fun?
Our son just turned one, and I love taking him out in his running stroller for a run. I also enjoy sailboat racing and playing piano.

Connected with Dr. Ben Freedman

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