Principal Research Scientist, MIT, Institute of Medical Engineering & Science
Dr. Balcells earned a Masters of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Institut Químic de Sarrià (1995) and in Chemistry from Ramon Llull University (1996), and a PhD in Macromolecular Chemistry from RWTH Aachen in 1999 as a fellow from La Caixa Foundation and the German Academic Exchange Services (DAAD). In June 1999 she joined the Harvard-MIT Biomedical Engineering Center as a postdoctoral fellow carried out pioneer work in tissue engineering of vessel-like structures. In 2006 Dr. Balcells became a MIT research scientist and profesora titular in Bioengineering at her alma mater, Institut Químic de Sarria (Ramon Llull University). Through her dual appointment at MIT and Institut Químic de Sarrià, Dr. Balcells has promoted innovative, highly productive research and educative exchanges between both institutions and countries. As a direct consequence of her work in extending MIT’s international opportunities for students and faculty she created the MIT-Spain Program. Each year the program provides 50 MIT students across schools and departments with internship opportunities in Spanish companies, universities and research centers. The program also awards seed funds to promote collaborative new research projects between MIT and Spanish faculty. In 2011, Spain’s government bestowed Dr. Balcells with the Cross of the Order of the Civil Merit for her contribution to establish a fruitful channel between MIT and her home country, Spain. Dr. Balcells is a passionate basic scientist who embraces working with physicians and clinicians as well as industry partners to accelerate the path of new technologies and therapies from bench to bed-site. She is also a motivated mentor and the projects she leads become the ideal venue to educate the next generation of engineers, biologists, material scientists, physicians, computer scientists and chemists who learn to work collaborative as the only way to solve today’s greatest challenges in health. Dr. Balcells is an entrepreneur and co-founded the Spanish start-up Regenear that utilizes chondrocytes from a small biopsy to regenerate cartilage for facial tissue regeneration. She also chairs the new MIT IDEA2 Global program, which provides mentoring and connections to biomedical innovators around the world to develop and realize their project ideas.