AUGUSTA, Ga. – Nina Tandon, CEO and Founder of EpiBone, the world’s first company growing living, human bones for skeletal reconstruction, is a featured speaker at Georgia Regents University’s Alumni Weekend. Tandon’s lecture, which is also part of the Drs. Robert and Lois Ellison Lecture Series, is planned for 2 p.m., Friday, April 25, in the Natalie and Lansing B. Lee Jr. Auditorium on the Health Sciences Campus. Alumni weekend, sponsored by Health Center Credit Union, is April 24-27.
Tandon spent her early career in telecommunications at Avaya Labs and transitioned into biomedical engineering through a Fulbright Scholarship in Italy, where she worked on an electronic nose used to “smell” lung cancer. After completing her Ph.D., during which she grew cardiac cells that beat like tiny hearts for her thesis, she consulted at McKinsey and Company. Since 2010, she has continued her work in tissue engineering and is working on creating a beating heart out of stem cells.
“Up until about a hundred years ago, the way we repaired the body was pretty much by leaving it alone, but this story really began to change at the turn of the last century, which corresponds so well with the way that we started to think about interchangeable parts on the assembly line – If you needed a new part, say, a heart, you could get a new one from a donor or make an artificial heart, but the paradigm was really the same: of viewing ourselves as a machine with spare parts,” she explains. “When tissue engineering came online, instead of thinking of the body as a sum of parts, we began to think of the body as a living ecosystem composed of cells and so we could begin to say ‘Lets grow a new part of the human body using cells as the starting material.’ With the help of manufacturing and information technology, we are on the verge of being able to grow human tissue—and I look forward walking us through this unbelievably exciting era.”
In addition to running EpiBone, Tandon is co-author of “Super Cells: Building with Biology,” a book that explores the new frontier of biotech. She also has been published in many book chapters and journals. She is a TED Senior Fellow and speaker, a Staff Associate Postdoctoral Researcher in the Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, Columbia University, and an Adjunct Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Cooper Union. Tandon has three patents and was named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company Magazine.