On April 9, the 2019 Child of the Sun Distinguished Speaker Series concluded with a presentation by Nina Tandon, the CEO of EpiBone.
The Child of the Sun Distinguished Speaker Series strives to unite the FSC and Lakeland communities by providing them a forum for intellectual discussion and to “provoke thought, stimulate conversation, and inspire action on a wide range of topics,” according to the stated mission statement of the series.
The theme of this year’s series was Technology and Innovation: Redefining Possible. Each of the speakers presented their research and findings and what these will mean for the future of technology.
Tandon, a TED Senior Fellow who has a PhD in Biomedical Engineering, is the co-founder and CEO of EpiBone. EpiBone is the world’s first company focused on growing living bones from human cells.
The process involves using scans to make a 3D model of a bone, extracting stem cells, and growing a new bone from these cells using a cutting-edge bioreactor. While the company has so far only tested on pigs, they are hopeful to begin human trials in the near future.
Tandon began her presentation by asking the audience to imagine a new future.
“Let’s start by closing our eyes,” Tandon said. “Imagine a world where we don’t have energy problems anymore because energy is converted at ten times the rate of the sun, and we don’t have an infrastructure problem anymore because broken bridges and roads repair themselves.”
She went on to explain that due to the way our cells can work, we already live in that world.
When beginning to talk about EpiBone, Tandon revealed that she was inspired to enter into the field of regenerative medicine based on the experience of her siblings’ medical diagnoses and struggles with blindness.
“That is when I made the connection in my own life, as my inspiration, that biology is technology,” Tandon said.
The theme of the rest of her presentation focused on the idea of medical innovation and how EpiBone could change the future of medicine.
“We aim to transform patient lives using skeletal reconstruction, precision design, and stem cell technology,” Tandon said.
Several students attended Tandon’s lecture. One of them was Linlee Franklin, a freshman Elementary Education major.
“Listening to Nina Tandon speak was a very unique and eye-opening experience, Franklin said, “She seemed to know a lot about the subject and interacted well with the audience. Her passion for biotechnology really showed through and rubbed off on all of us.”