Dr. Nina Tandon, of EpiBone, Teaches Hun School Students about the Science of Growing Bones

Hun School of Princeton students got a front row seat on the world of bioengineered body parts Tuesday when Dr. Nina Tandon, CEO of EpiBone, explained the science of growing human bones. 
Dr. Tandon, part of The Hun School’s Centennial Speaker Series, is co-founder of EpiBone, the first company in the world to grow living human bones for skeletal reconstruction. They are grown from a patient’s own stem cells, meaning they can be used in their body without fear of rejection. They can also be grown and shaped exactly to fit a patient’s needs, and eliminate the necessity of a bone graft.
 
The Hun School’s Centennial Speaker Series is best in class, bringing experts to the Hun community who are on the cutting edge of science, the arts, and other fields. Dr. Tandon has delivered TED talks on healthcare, technology and biology’s new industrial revolution. She is an adjunct professor of electrical engineering at the Cooper Union in New York City, and has a master’s degree in bioelectrical engineering from MIT. She also has a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and an MBA, both from Columbia University. Fast Company magazine named her one of the Most Creative People in Business, and she is one of Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers. She is the co-author of Super Cells: Building with Biology.
 
Dr. Tandon said that science in the industrialized, 20th century viewed bodies as “machines” which could be repaired, like a car, sometimes with a pill, or with another machine, such as an artificial heart. She said that view is evolving.
 
“Our bodies are actually a collection of cells working together, and we’ve started to view our bodies as gardens rather than as machines… and view medicine as a gardener, rather than as a mechanic,” she said, referring to the regenerative properties of cells.
 
Dr. Tandon said the bones grow in a “bioreactor,” a sort of “fancy fish tank” that simulates the environment of the human body, providing nutrients, oxygen, and physical forces that help a bone grow. Her company has started clinical trials using its bones in humans, and it will be several years before the product is approved by the government and comes to market.
 
Hun School student Kimrin Dhillon ’18, who is interested in medicine, was thrilled to hear and meet Dr. Tandon.
 
“I want that to be me in twenty years!” said Kimrin, who said she has learned about medical innovation on Hun’s Science Olympiad team and through her own reading. “I’ve never gotten to meet someone who does it!”
 
Dr. Tandon ended her talk with an open invitation to Hun students to visit her at her EpiBone lab in Brooklyn, New York.
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The Hun School of Princeton is an independent, coeducational, private day and boarding college preparatory school.  Student-centered, hands-on learning prepares students for the global community in which they will live and work.

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