Printing new horizons: a career in bioprinting

Three-dimensional printing (3D printing) also known as additive manufacturing or rapid prototyping, was first described in the 1980’s. Over the past several decades, the field has exploded to include a plethora of technologies that are applied in manufacturing (3D printed lug nuts), construction (3D printed buildings), and medicine (tissue regeneration). The application of 3D printing in medicine has led to the advancement of tissue regeneration by way of technologies that print tissues and organs using biological material. The field of 3D printing in the healthcare and medical device sector is rapidly advancing with a global impact. In the US specifically, the healthcare and medical devices 3D printing sector is projected to increase in industry value from $60 to $90 billion value with more than half a million new jobs created over the next 10 years (more information can be found here).

In December, Beyond the PhD had the pleasure of hosting Ms. Taciana Pereira, Vice President and General Manager, 3D Systems Corporation to share her journey and discuss careers in tissue engineering. Her interest in tissue engineering began as an undergraduate student researcher at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University. After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree from Harvard University in 2017, she was hired by Allevi as a bioengineer. Allevi was a startup company based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that developed “versatile and easy-to-use bioprinting technologies” for biomedical research. Quickly she rose through the ranks from Bioengineer to Director of Bioengineering and eventually to Chief Scientific Officer. The company was later acquired by 3D Systems where she is currently employed. 

Her experience in the startup sphere illuminated the explosive growth in bioprinting over a few years; from a few dedicated companies in 2016 to more than 100 companies around the globe today. She described the advantages of working in a startup compared to a larger pharmaceutical company or in academia. For example, while working at Allevi, she was able to simultaneously work on several aspects of the product development including research, strategy, commercialization, and business development. She had also shared information about entrepreneurship training programs sponsored by venture capitalist firms that helped her develop a business plan for fundraising for Allevi. 

Currently Ms. Pereira leads the lab bioprinting vertical at 3D Systems that has several projects spanning bioink development, 3D cell culture, soft and hard tissue engineering, and disease modeling. One example of the disease modeling application is the novel tumor-on-a-chip model that had both vascular and lymphatic vessels developed by Dr. Yu Shrike Zhang from Harvard University who was a scientific adviser at Allevi. She concluded her talk by saying that for graduate students interested in a career in bioprinting should pursue the field out of passion and to not be discouraged if you don’t have direct research experience because this field is relatively novel. 

Pro-tip: Never hesitate to cold call or reach out to different companies using Linkedin. 

If you are interested in learning more about this field feel free to contact her at taci.pereira@3dsystems.com.

Recording of this seminar:

https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/tXepKPOhAG3bR_81q8ELw2Z9mw49WK1ifSg39i9UTkrReEgQQ_a8Ps7hKUqZTbfW.64r0Nvllsum7k0Bu

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