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Academic Runner-up: Fiorenzo Omenetto
Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Tufts University

Omenetto and a team of scientists at Tufts University's School of Engineering have taken a material that's been around for thousands of years -- silk -- and created optical sensors that are edible, completely biodegradable, and already FDA-approved for use in the human body. Such sensors could be placed in bags of produce to detect harmful bacteria, or they could be implanted in a device that tracks glucose levels in a patient's blood and sends that data to a physician's computer. "There are a lot of cool applications that one can think of for the future when you start bringing in the drug elements, the optical elements, and the protein elements," he says. Put another way, Omenetto's innovations sit at the intersection of information technology and biology. --J.P.M.

NEXT: Academic runner-up: Sebastian Thrun
Last updated July 09 2010: 1:19 PM ET
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