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At a special seminar held for the class of 1954, MIT experts provided insight into three of what moderator Paul Gray 54, SM 55, ScD 60, called the big Os in science and engineering: biotech, nanotech, and infotech. Robert Weinberg 64, PhD 69, Timothy Swager, and Victor Zue, ScD 76, each delivered one-hour talks that brought alumni up to date on advances in fields that were either in their infancy or not even born when the class graduated 50 years ago.

Weinberg, a professor of biology and pioneer in cancer research, outlined what molecular biologists have discovered about cancer. He pointed out that the overall cancer rate in the United States has remained relatively steady in the last 50 years, despite great strides in understanding how the disease starts and spreads. Although better diagnostic tools have allowed doctors to find cancers earlier, he said, new treatments have not kept pace. But he believes that information from the mapping of the human genome will improve cancer therapies. Indeed, physicians are now starting to treat cancers based on this knowledge.

Zue, codirector of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, demonstrated many of the pervasive-computing developments from Project Oxygen (see Rethinking the Computer, MIT News, July/August 2004). Swager, associate director of the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, rounded out the afternoon with an overview of the 49 MIT projects aimed at creating a high-tech battle suit for soldiers of the future.


Members of the Class of 1954 and their guests attended a seminar in the Stata Center during their 50th reunion. (Brilliant Pictures)

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Tagged: Biomedicine

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