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Sarah Heilshorn: Building replacement parts for the human body

​Stanford professors Russ Altman and Sarah Heilshorn discuss the promise and the complexities of engineering new tissues to replace damaged parts of the human body.

Illustration of question mark with radiating lines

Could engineering new tissues improve human recovery? | Illustration by Stefani Billings

Heart attacks, burns, strokes, disease and just plain-old aging can devastate human tissues.

But, emboldened by new understandings about the building blocks of life, engineers are applying their unique skill sets to creating replacement parts for the body.

It sounds like magic, says host and bioengineer Russ Altman, but it’s anything but. From synthetic mortars holding the biobricks of life together to new heart muscle, brain matter and skin tissue, bioengineering is on the precipice of a new age.

In this episode of The Future of Everything podcast and radio show, Altman and Sarah Heilshorn, associate professor of materials science, discuss the technical and ethical challenges of engineering new human tissues.