From the expert: Roger Kamm’s insights on M-CELS

We caught up with our co-founder Roger Kamm this week to get his thoughts on M-CELS as a keynote speaker in the upcoming M-CELS Workshop. To quickly recap from last week, M-CELS are a new area of engineering that draws upon the unique capabilities of living cells to accomplish specific tasks, and Kamm will be the first speaker at this free virtual event. We got a sneak peek from him about his presentation, as well as his personal insights about this fascinating new field at the intersection of biology and engineering.

What will Kamm’s keynote be about?

As an interdisciplinary field, experts on M-CELS come from a diverse range of STEM specialties. Kamm explained that the focus of this event as compared to past workshops will be to bring together experts from these various disciplines to discuss future prospects.

“We’ve had several small workshops in the past building up to this one where we’ve mostly focused on the research regarding M-CELS,” Kamm said about the event. “In next week’s event, we plan to broaden the scope of discussion and bring in experts from a wide spectrum of different fields to discuss recent scientific advances, diverse industry applications, bioethics, and much more—we’ve included speakers from funding and regulatory agencies such as the FDA, educators, and even scientific writers to help us in communicating our ideas to the general public. A really broad swipe.”

As the opening speaker for the event, Kamm will lay the foundation for the discussion, breaking down fundamental background topics about the technology and setting the stage for the other speakers.

“I’ll be talking about the fundamental underpinnings of M-CELS and its path over the past ten or more years,” he explained. “I’ll discuss the current state of the field, how it continues to grow and expand, and what are some of the challenges we face.”

First-time attendees to M-CELS discussions will especially want to tune in to Kamm’s keynote in order to gain the foundational knowledge to engage with the experts.

What does Kamm think personally about M-CELS?

With his background in bioengineering, Kamm is especially interested in the potential applications in disease modeling, perhaps enabling new treatments for conditions that medicine has so far struggled to address.

“Most of our lab today is focusing on disease models, and capturing the essential aspects of diseases in microphysiological systems,” he said, referring to the various organs-on-a-chip his lab has developed and which led to the AIM technology. “We’re already using chip-based M-CELS to capture disease onset and progression. We’ve been using this for years to study cancer, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease—we ultimately aim  to identify entirely new therapeutic approaches to these diseases.”

M-CELS is still a new field, however, and faces several challenges in need of solving. The various thought leaders at the workshop will discuss their own perspectives, but for Kamm’s part, he foresees a number of potential barriers in guiding organoids—clusters of pluripotent stem cells derived from individual patients that grow into organ-like structures—towards a specific design, be it organ replacement for patients or drug development.

“One of the greatest opportunities is growing organoids from stem cells that replicate real organ function. These have the potential to revolutionize drug development,” he explained. “The barrier we face is that we currently lack the ability to control organoid growth. We have to develop methods that enable us to guide the growth of organoids to facilitate their implementation and improve their function. That’s going to be a big challenge over the next 5-10 years.”

Where to catch the free virtual event

Kamm’s keynote will kick off the M-CELS workshop, running from June 1-3. His presentation will start at 1 p.m. ET.
Virtual attendance is free, and you can register at the event site:

Be sure not to miss it!