Heat used to remotely control cells

"What if we could build a remote control for cells?" That was the wild idea Kelly Stevens and Daniel Corbett had.

Stevens, assistant professor of bioengineering and laboratory medicine and pathology at the UW School of Medicine, explains that if they were ever going to build an artificial tissue, like a liver, they would need a way to make sure all the cells in that tissue worked properly. She and Corbett, a Ph.D, student in bioengineering, showed that by using heat and cells engineered to respond to heat, they could get the cells to exhibit the functions in the right order.

"Someday, this will also hopefully be able to get scaled into these bigger organs that we could maybe someday transplant into a patient," Stevens says. "We’re not there yet but in order to get there we’re going to have to take these steps."

UW Medicine