B.U. Biomedical Engineer Among Honored by Technology Review


For Release Upon Receipt – September 22, 2004
Contact: Ann Marie Menting, 617/353-2240, amenting@bu.edu

(Boston) — Timothy S. Gardner, research associate and assistant professor of biomedical engineering in Boston University’s College of Engineering, has been selected as one of the world’s 100 “top young innovators” in 2004 by Technology Review, MIT’s Magazine of Innovation. Those named to this year’s “TR100” will be recognized during Technology Review’s Emerging Technologies Conference, September 29 – 30 at MIT in Cambridge, Mass.

The TR100 awards, established five years ago, seek to recognize the contributions that individuals under the age of 35 have made in transforming the nature of technology and business in industries such as biotechnology, medicine, computing, and nanotechnology.

Gardner’s research exemplifies well the purpose of the awards. With the aim of understanding the complex system of genes, proteins, and metabolites that underlies cellular function, Gardner develops computational and experimental tools for mapping and modeling system-wide properties of gene regulatory networks in minute organisms such as bacteria. Gardner also seeks to optimize these metabolic networks so as to allow their directed use for various purposes, including bioremediation and energy production.

Controlling and optimizing microbes’ metabolic systems also can have important medical implications, including inferring mechanisms of drug action or overcoming bacterial tolerance to a particular antibiotic.

One genetic inference model Gardner developed, the Network Identification by multiple Regression (NIR) model, has been applied successfully in E. coli, a bacterium found in the human gastrointestinal tract. Gardner’s NIR method infers a mathematical expression of a cell’s gene–protein interactions based on their functional effects on each other. By mapping these functional links, Gardner can use NIR to identify key properties of E. coli’s cellular networks as well as to predict how drug compounds affect its cellular processes.

Because his research focuses on optimizing the beneficial uses of microbes found in our environment, Gardner has looked toward smoothing and speeding the transition from research to application. In 2000, he co-founded Cellicon Biotechnologies. This company aims to develop improved antibiotics by applying Gardner’s research on mapping and control of cellular gene networks. He currently serves on the company’s Board of Directors in addition to his academic appointment in Boston University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Researchers in BU’s Department of Biomedical Engineering focus on applying engineering, computational, and analytical techniques to a range of biological systems, from nanoscale systems such as DNA to macroscopic ones like organ systems. Whether investigating systems for information coding by base pairs, membrane binding in cells, visual and auditory perception, or those driving lung respiration or whole-body balance, BU biomedical engineers draw from concepts of engineering, biology, chemistry, physics, medicine, and mathematics as they work to decipher the processes by which biological systems perform their specific tasks efficiently and to exacting standards.

Technology Review, relaunched in 1998 as MIT’s Magazine of Innovation, carries news and research in the areas of information technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology, energy, transportation, and defense issues. The monthly magazine reaches more than two million business leaders and is part of Technology Review, Inc., an MIT Enterprise.

Boston University, with an enrollment of more than 29,000 in its 17 schools and colleges, is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States.