The highest honor given by the Society for In Vitro Biology is the Lifetime Achievement Award.  It is presented to scientists who are considered pioneers or highly influential researchers to the science and art of cell culture.  They are men and women who have devoted their careers to exemplary research and/or teaching.  The recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award are selected by vote of the Board of Directors from a list of nominations recommended by the Awards Committee.  The Society for In Vitro Biology honored Dr. Donald Ingber, Dr. Wilf Keller, and Dr. Peggy Lemaux with SIVB Lifetime Achievement Awards at the 2010 In Vitro Biology Meeting.  This issue highlights Dr. Donald Ingber’s career.  The careers of Dr. Wilf Keller and Dr. Peggy Lemaux were highlighted in previous archived issues of the In Vitro Report. 

Donald Ingber (right) receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from SIVB President William Smith

Dr. Donald Ingber was the recipient of the Society for In Vitro Biology Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2010 annual Meeting in St Louis, MO.  Dr. Ingber has made significant contributions to in vitro biology research and is a pioneer in the fields of extracellular matrix biology, angiogenesis, tissue engineering, and mechanotransduction.

Dr. Ingber began his college education at Yale University where he earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry.  He then entered the Medical Scientist Training Program at Yale, and earned M.D., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees.  Dr. Ingber performed his graduate research in Cell Biology in the laboratory of Dr. James Jamieson, where he investigated the role of the extracellular matrix and physical forces in driving pancreatic morphogenesis and tumorigenesis.  He then received postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Judah Folkman at Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Ingber then joined the Department of Pathology at Harvard Medical School where he advanced through the ranks to Professor of Pathology.  Additional academic appointments at Harvard include: Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology, and Professor of Bioengineering in the Harvard School of Engineering & Applied Sciences.  In addition to these academic appointments, Dr. Ingber also has a number of hospital appointments in Surgery, Pathology, and Vascular Biology at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Ingber entered the field of in vitro cell biology when molecular studies on cell behavior dominated cell biology research.  His pioneering research demonstrated that the extracellular matrix serves as a critical regulator of cellular function.  His seminal 1993 publication in the journal Science demonstrated that integrins function as mechanoreceptors that transmit mechanical signals to the cytoskeleton. This research was instrumental in establishing the “tensegrity” model of living cells and spawning the fields of Cellular Biophysics and Mechanotransduction.  Subsequent research by Dr. Ingber’s laboratory demonstrated that mechanical stresses transmitted across integrins to cytoskeletal linker proteins in focal adhesions activates signal transduction and gene transcription.  His research group has also used optical physics (femtosecond lasers) to spatially map cytoskeletal mechanics of living cells, and using this approach they have described the mechanical behavior of individual actin stress fibers and microtubules.  One of his greatest contributions to in vitro biology includes the adaptation of a soft-lithography-based microfabrication technique.  Using this technique, Dr. Ingber’s research team demonstrated that in the presence of soluble mitogens, cells can be switched between growth, differentiation, and motility and apoptosis by altering the force between cells and the extracellular matrix.  Dr. Donald Ingber continues to be a leader and innovator in in vitro biology research.  As the Founding Director of Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, he is leading an effort to develop “Biomimetic Microsystems”.  These biomimetic microsystems consist of microfluidic biochips with living cells that recapitulate organ-level functions, with application for drug screening, toxicology testing, and diagnostics/therapeutics.

Dr. Donald Ingber’s contributions to the in vitro biology are exemplified by his publication record which includes over 200 peer-reviewed publications, and 56 published book chapters/proceedings.  His research program has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, National Science Foundation, NASA, American Cancer Society, Neomorphics, Inc., and Takeda Chemical Industries.  He has served as a member of the editorial board for the following journals: Am. J. Phys: Heart & Circulatory Physiology, Tissue Engineering, Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine, Angiogenesis Research, Endothelium, Molecular and Cellular Biomechanics, Stem Cell Reviews, Biointerphase, American Journal of Nanomedicine, Scandanavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, Cell Adhesion and Migration, Cellular & Molecular Bioengineering, International Journal of Terraspace Science and Engineering, and Cell Health and Cytoskeleton.  Dr. Ingber is an active member of numerous professional Societies including:  American Society for Cell Biology, Society for In Vitro Biology, American Society for Space and Gravitational Biology, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Society for Investigative Pathology, American Association for Cancer Research, North American Vascular Biology Organization, American Physiological Society, Society for Biomaterials, International Society for Heart Research, American Physical Society, New York Academy of Science, American Academy of Nanomedicine, Biophysical Society, and the Biomedical Engineering Society.  Dr. Ingber also contributes to in vitro biology by actively participating in graduate-level teaching, and by having served as a research advisor to 34 Postdoctoral Fellows, 7 Clinical Fellows, 16 Ph.D. or Ph.D./M.D. Students, 16 Medical or Dental Students, 1 Masters Student, 14 Undergraduate Students, and 4 Visiting Professors.

Dr. Donald Ingber has made major contributions to In Vitro Biology Research.  Because of his innovative development and use of in vitro culture systems, we now recognize the importance of mechanical stresses, extracellular matrix mechanics, and cytoskeletal prestress in cellular processes such as cell cycle progression, apoptosis, differentiation, stem cell fate lineage switching, motility, angiogenesis, and tissue patterning.


Information provided by Dr. Marsha Moses, Dr. Michael Klagsbrun, and Dr. Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic

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