MBL | Biological Discovery in Woods Hole Contact UsDirectionsText SizeSmallMediumLarge

Resources for Reporters:

MBL Publications:

Join the Conversation:
Facebook Twitter Youtube Wordpress

Nobel Laureates

press releases

For further MBL News and Media Information, contact the MBL Communications Office at (508) 289-7423 or e-mail us at comm@mbl.edu .

Eugene and Millicent Bell Establish Endowed Fellowship in Tissue Engineering at the MBL

Woods Hole, MA—Dr. Eugene Bell, a pioneer in the field of tissue engineering, and Professor Millicent Bell have established a fellowship at the MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory) that will support scientists pursuing tissue engineering research, a field dedicated to the replacement and repair of failing tissue and organs. Regenerating and replacing diseased tissue answers the body's need to support and prolong life that is endlessly compromised by aging, disease, accident, and genetic destiny.  

The $400,000 endowed Eugene and Millicent Bell Fellowship Fund in Tissue Engineering at the MBL will provide a yearly award to selected postdoctoral fellows and/or graduate students, including those enrolled in the Brown/MBL Graduate Program in the Biological and Environmental Sciences.   The first recipient of the fellowship is Dr. Ronald Pethig, a professor in the Electronic Engineering Department at the University of Wales, Bangor.

Dr. Eugene Bell is a professor of biology emeritus at MIT and a long-time MBL Corporation member and former Clerk of the Corporation. Professor Millicent Bell is Professor of English Emerita at Boston University and the author of a number of books including Edith Wharton and Henry James: The Story of Their Friendship, Meaning in Henry James, and Shakespeare's Tragic Skepticism.  

"We are most grateful to the Bells for this generous, forward-thinking endowment gift," said William T. Speck, MBL Director and CEO.   "The fellowship will provide much needed support to scientists pursuing a variety of biomedical questions that advance our knowledge of biological composition and function at levels ranging from molecules to whole organisms."

During his fellowship at the MBL this summer, Dr. Pethig plans to engineer artificial assemblies of insulin-secreting cells to mimic a group of pancreatic cells called Islets of Langerhans. Type I diabetes results from the destruction of these islets.   Dr. Pethig has shown that artificial cell structures can be formed from pancreatic cells through the application of electrical signals. He proposes to extend these studies at the MBL to additional pancreatic cells.   The long-term goal of his work is to produce stable cell assemblies for use in pancreatic cell transplantation.

The field of tissue engineering has its origin in Dr. Bell's laboratory at MIT during the late 1970s and early 1980s where he and his colleagues developed a "living skin equivalent," a reconstitution of "living skin" from a collagen matrix populated with allogeneic dermal and epidermal cells from which all immune cells were removed. They also pioneered other allogeneic organs such as blood vessels and glands.

Dr. Bell's research resulted in two successful biotech companies.   The first, Organogenesis, Inc., was focused on the commercialization of the "living skin equivalent." A second company, TEI Biosciences Inc., develops and manufactures other new matrices for the repair and replacement of failed human tissues and organs.   They include replacements, already installed in over 10,000 people, for the dura, the tough outermost membrane enveloping the brain and spinal cord, the rotator cuff, pelvic repair, and replacement of skin and herniated tissues. TEI Biosciences, Inc. was founded at the MBL and is now located in Boston.



The MBL is an international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Western Hemisphere. For more information, visit www.mbl.edu.