Wingaersheek Beach (2)

I write on biomedical research, climate resilience and other topics of interest, and am working on a book about Boston Harbor. Among my day jobs, I was associate director for communications and public affairs at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and founding editor in chief of MIT’s benderwrite @, @ebender00,, 86 Greenlawn Avenue, Newton, MA 02459 USA


How organoids are advancing the understanding of chronic kidney disease
Although complete human kidneys grown from scratch are many years away, organoids built from pluripotent stem cells are already helping to model the condition and suggest better treatments.
Nature, 2023

Safety is in the air
Devices that use wavelengths of sanitizing ultraviolet light that are safe for people could become a more common sight.
Nature, 2022 (also picked up by Scientific American)

Finding medical value in mescaline
After millennia of sacramental use, mescaline is finally entering fully powered clinical trials.
Nature, 2022

Urban evolution: How species adapt to survive in cities
Plants and animals are evolving in cities around the world — offering ways to study longstanding scientific questions and clues to where climate change is taking us.
Knowable, 2022 (also picked up by Scientific American)

Stem cells scaled up
Therapies based on induced pluripotent stem cells are hard enough to grow at a small scale. How will they be mass-produced for the clinic?
Nature, 2021

What survives the storm
StEER engineers flock into the site of natural disasters to support first responders and learn from the destruction.
Hakai, 2021 (also picked up by Smithsonian, The Atlantic)

The case for ocean optimism
With the health of the ocean under threat, a rallying cry for marine conservation goes global.
Knowable, 2021 (also picked up by Smithsonian)

Creating T cells to guard against autoimmune disease
Biotechnology companies are engineering regulatory T cells to help protect the body from friendly fire.
Nature, 2021

A $26-Billion Plan to Save the Houston Area from Rising Seas
Lawmakers are poised to decide the fate of a massive project to protect the coast around Houston from rising sea levels.
Undark, 2021 (also picked up by Popular Science, Salon, Wired, others)

Getting a Covid-19 vaccine — quickly and safely
Researchers around the globe are working with unprecedented speed to find the vaccines we need to find our way through the pandemic. What’s the bar for safety and effectiveness?
Knowable, 2020

Could a bacteria-stuffed pill cure autoimmune diseases?
Researchers are investigating how the community of microbes living in the gut might help people with multiple sclerosis, lupus and type 1 diabetes.
Nature, 2020

Unpacking the black box in artificial intelligence for medicine
Deep learning will radically change aspects of our medical care. How well do we need to understand how AI tools work?
Undark, 2019

Breaking out of the egg
Can the latest techniques speed up the dangerously slow production of flu vaccines?
Nature, 2019

Now in development: off-the-shelf stem cells
Their potential as universal donors promises to make regenerative medicine more broadly practical.
Knowable, 2019

Biotechs race to develop stem cell treatments for diabetes
Insulin-producing cells grown in the lab could offer a functional cure for the disease.
The Scientist, 2019

Regulating the gene-therapy revolution
The medical regulatory authorities ride a wave of clinical studies for gene therapies.
Nature, 2018

Cancer immunotherapy
(Lead editor)
Nature, 2017

With storms intensifying and oceans on the rise, Boston weighs strategies for staying dry
A multi-billion-dollar seawall is among climate adaptation options under consideration for the iconic coastal city.
Ensia, 2017

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