The coming together of biology and engineering, with vital assists from chemistry and physics, has raised the prospect of extraordinary health advances.

The possibilities include hearts and livers grown on biodegradable scaffoldings in the lab and then implanted in patients; synthetic muscles that can supplement or replace those weakened by injury or illness; therapies for cancer and other ailments that devastate disease-harboring cells while leaving healthy ones completely untouched…treatments that would allow new cell growth –– and restored capabilities –– in patients afflicted by illnesses like Alzheimer’s, with no need for surgery.

MIT scientists and engineers have had a major role in turning such ideas from dreams into goals. Yet as the Institute expands its already pace-setting capabilities in biomedical science and engineering, MIT researchers know that there are many barriers to breach before such goals can be realized.

Happily, these men and women work in an institution where solving problems is as much a part of the landscape as the Great Dome. What follows are snapshots of some of the people who are helping to change the face of medical science.