Elazer R. Edelman, M.D., Ph.D., is the Edward J. Poitras Professor in Medical Engineering and Science at MIT, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Senior Attending Physician in the coronary care unit at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He and his laboratory have pioneered basic findings in vascular biology and the development and assessment of biotechnology. Dr. Edelman directs MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) and Clinical Research Center (CRC) as well as the Harvard-MIT Biomedical Engineering Center (BMEC) – all dedicated to applying the rigors of the physical sciences to elucidate fundamental biologic processes and mechanisms of disease.
Dr. Edelman received Bachelor of Science degrees in Bioelectrical Engineering and in Applied Biology from MIT, a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from MIT, a Ph.D. in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics from MIT, and an M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School. His graduate thesis work, under the direction of Prof. Robert Langer, defined the mathematics of regulated and controlled drug delivery systems. After internal medicine training and clinical fellowship in Cardiovascular Medicine at the BWH he spent six years as a research fellow in the Department of Pathology at Harvard Medical School with Prof. Morris J. Karnovsky working on the biology of vascular repair.
His research interests meld his medical and scientific training to better understand underlying biology for application towards improved clinical decision making and device design. For example, his work examining the cellular and molecular mechanisms that produce atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease led to the development and optimization of the first bare-metal stents, as well as subsequent iterations on the technology including drug-eluting stents.
Through a focus on understanding how tissue architecture and biochemical regulation contribute to local growth control, Edelman and his students were among the first to validate that proliferative vascular diseases are the sum of effects from endogenous growth promoters and suppressors. Their characterization of how heparin-like compounds serve as suppressors and heparin-binding growth factors as promoters contributed to the creation of a rigorous framework by which to appreciate how these agents interact with one another in-vivo. This work and advanced studies of endothelial cell and vascular biology led to the discovery the mutable dynamic of vascular endothelial state and its importance in tissue paracrine and angiocrine regulation in vascular diseases and now cancer. To apply their work, the group reasoned that the optimal way to control a biologic event was by recapitulating natural means of regulation. Hence, polymeric controlled drug delivery systems should mimic natural release systems, and vascular implants should be devised with an intimate knowledge of the injury they induce. The development and mathematical characterization of perivascular and stent-based drug delivery is an example of the former, and design of an endovascular and drug-eluting stent from first principles and therapeutic tissue engineered endothelial cell constructs is an example of the latter. More recently, these principles have been applied towards the development of novel mechanical organ support and heart valves.
Many of his findings have been or are now in clinical trial validation. More than 300 students and postdoctoral fellows have passed through Dr. Edelman’s laboratory enabling publication of over 680 original scientific articles and some 80 patents.
Dr. Edelman is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association, the Association of University Cardiologists, the American Society of Clinical Investigation, American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Inventors, the Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Engineering. As Chief Scientific Advisor of Science: Translational Medicine he has set the tone for the national debate on translational research and innovation. As co-founder of ASTM F04.03 he helped create standards for cardiovascular implants. He served as a member of FDA’s Science Board and an ORISE fellow in the FDA EIR. For his work bringing cardiovascular translational research to an international level of excellence, the Spanish Parliament and King Juan Carlos awarded Dr. Edelman with the Spanish Order of Civil Merit for his work. Most importantly, Elazer is an avid ice hockey goalie, and with his wife Cheryl are parents to comedian and writer Alexander, Olympic athlete AJ, and Austin.