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GEN’s editor in chief, John Sterling, interviews life science academic and biotech industry leaders on important research, technology, and trends. These podcasts will keep you informed with all the important details you need.

Researchers at Yale University have created a blueprint for artificial cells that are more powerful and efficient than the natural cells they mimic and could one day be used to power tiny medical implants. The scientists began with the question of whether an artificial version of the electrocyte, the energy-generating cells in electric eels, could be designed as a potential power source.


Jian Xu, Ph.D., a postdoctoral associate in Yale's Department of Chemical Engineering, came up with the first blueprint that shows how the electrocyte's different ion channels work together to produce the fish's electricity while he was a graduate student under former Yale assistant professor of mechanical engineering David LaVan, Ph.D., now at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.


During this week's podcast Dr. LaVan provides additional details on how the team used the blueprint to create a model of artificial cells that could replicate the electrocyte's energy production. He also explains how the group was able to quantitatively demonstrate the model's ability to generate power despite the fact that a working "bio-battery" does not yet exist.


Finally, Dr. LaVan discusses some examples of applications for these novel artificial cells.
David A. LaVan received a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from The Johns Hopkins University. He was a post-doctoral fellow at Sandia National Laboratories and a research affiliate in Robert Langer's laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is currently a Project Leader in the Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, MD.

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