Ellen Roche

Core Faculty
Phone: (617) 258-6024
Email: etr@mit.edu
room: E25-334
MIT address: 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139
Administrative Assistant: Ruth Mattson
assistant phone: (617) 253-9757
assistant email: rmattson@mit.edu

Ellen Roche

Core Faculty


  • W.M. Keck Career Development Professor in Biomedical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Assistant Professor, MechE and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Ellen Roche received her bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from NUIGalway, Ireland and went on to work in the medical device industry (Mednova, Abbott Vascular and Medtronic) before receiving her MSc in Bioengineering from Trinity College Dublin. She completed her PhD at Harvard University under the guidance of Professor David Mooney in the Mooney Lab and Professor Conor Walsh  in the Harvard Biodesign Lab.
To date her research has focused on new approaches to cardiac device design. In industry she worked on embolic carotid filters, drug eluting coronary stents and trans-aortic valve bioprosthesis delivery systems. During her doctoral work she used soft robotic techniques to develop a bioinspired cardiac simulator (Roche et al, Advanced Materials, 2014) and, in collaboration with a team of cardiac surgeons from Boston Children’s Hospital designed an extra-cardiac compression device that can increase cardiac output in a failing heart animal model (Roche et al, Science Translational Medicine, 2017, Horvath et al, ABME, 2017 and Payne et al, Soft Robotics 2017). As well as mechanical device design, she also worked on employing biomaterials to improve cell delivery and retention to the infarcted heart (Roche and Hastings, Biomaterials, 2014Hastings and Roche, Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, 2015) and took the engineering lead in a multi-disciplinary collaborative team between Harvard, Boston Children’s hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital to design a light-reflecting catheter that can close tissue defects atraumatically (Roche and Fabozzo, Science Translational Medicine, 2015).
As a post-doctoral research fellow at the National University of Ireland Galway under the supervision of Prof. Peter McHugh, Ellen used computational methods (finite element analysis) to analyze drug release kinetics from implantable devices. Her research incorporates engineering advances in manufacturing technologies and computational analysis tools into the device design process to develop novel therapeutic strategies for tissue repair. Her lab will have strong collaborations with surgeons and interventionalists from local hospitals for constant input into the device design process and to enable accurate development of clinically representative laboratory and pre-clinical test protocols.


  • B.Eng, NUIGalway, Ireland, 2004
  • MSc, Trinity College, Dublin, 2010
  • PhD, Harvard University, 2015
  • B. Med.Sci, RCSI/NUIGalway, Ireland

selected awards/societies

  • Wellcome Trust Seed Award in Science 2016-2017
  • Irish Research Council Post-Doctoral Government of Ireland Fellowship 2016-2017
  • American Heart Association Pre-Doctoral Award 2014-2015
  • Fulbright International Science and Technology Award 2011-2014
  • Pierce Fellowship for Outstanding Graduate Students 2011-2014
  • Judah Folkman Award 2014
  • First Place Award, 3-in-5 Competition, Design of Medical Devices 2013
  • First Place Award, International Student Design Showcase, Design of Medical Devices 2013
  • Overall Winner, Mimics Engineering on Anatomy for Cardiovascular Applications 2013
  • First Place Thesis Award, Trinity College, Dublin 2010
  • First Place Examinations Award, Trinity College, Dublin 2010
  • Technical Excellence Contribution Award, AbbottVascular 2007
  • Ryan Hanley Prize for best final year project, NUIGalway 2004
  • Medtronic Prize for best final year project, NUIGalway 2004
  • First Place Examinations Award, NUIGalway 2004


Ellen Roche’s research focuses on applying novel manufacturing technologies (soft robotics, thermal forming, encapsulation and actuation of bioactive agents) to translational medical devices, and developing devices along the translational path from concept to clinic. Her work includes devices for treating cardiovascular disease and other clinical applications, with a strong focus on characterization of these devices through laboratory and pre-clinical testing and computational analysis. Ellen has a strong interest in transcardiac surgery, congenital heart conditions and the combination of mechanical and biological therapies (Cezar et al, PNAS, 2016). Her research will explore how best to combine these strategies for polytherapeutic approaches. Clinical and industry collaboration throughout the design process will be a key component of her research approach.

selected publications

  • C. J. Payne, I. Wamala, C. Abah, T. Thalhofer, M. Saeed, D. Bautista-Salinas, M. A. Horvath, N. V. Vasilyev, E. T. Roche, F. A. Pigula, C. J. Walsh. “An Implantable Extracardiac Soft Robotic Device for the Failing Heart: Mechanical Coupling and Synchronization.” Soft Robotics 4.3 (2017): 241-250.
  • M. A. Horvath, I. Wamala, E. Rytkin, E. Doyle, C. J. Payne, T. Thalhofer, I. Berra, I. Wamala, A. Solovyeva, M. Saeed, S. Hendren, E. T. Roche, P. J. Del Nido, C. J. Walsh, N. V. Vasilyev. Annals of Biomedical Engineering (2017): 1-12.
  • E. T. Roche, M. A. Horvath, I. Wamala, A. Alazmani, S. E.  Song, W. Whyte, Z. Machaidze, N. V. Vasilyev, D. J. Mooney, F.  A. Pigula, and C. J. Walsh. “Soft Robotic Sleeve Restores Heart Function.” Science Translational Medicine 9.373 (2017): eaaf3925. (Front cover article)
  • C. A. Cezar, E. T. Roche, H. H. Vandenburgh, G. N. Duda, C. J. Walsh, and D. J. Mooney. “Biologic-free mechanically induced muscle regeneration.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 113.6 (2016): 1534-39.
  • E. T. Roche,  A. Fabozzo, Y. Lee, P. Polygerinos, I. Friehs, L. Schuster, A. M. Casar Berazaluce, A. Bueno, N. Lang, M. J. N. Pereira, E. Feins, S. Wassermann, E. D. O’Cearbhaill, N. V. Vasilyev, D. J. Mooney, J. M. Karp, P. J. del Nido, and C. J. Walsh. “A light reflecting balloon for atraumatic tissue defect closure.” Science Translational Medicine 7 (2015): 306. (Front cover article).
  • E. T. Roche, R. Wohlfarth, J. T. B. Overvelde, N. V. Vasilyev, F. A. Pigula, D. J. Mooney, K. Bertoldi, and C. J. Walsh CJ. “A Bioinspired Soft Actuated Material.” Advanced Materials 26 (2014): 1200-1206. (Front cover article). 
  • E. T. Roche, C. L. Hastings, S. A. Lewin, D. E. Shvartsman, Y. Brudno, N. V. Vasilyev, F. J. O’Brien, C. J. Walsh, G. P. Duffy, D. J. Mooney. “Comparison of biomaterial delivery vehicles for improving acute retention of stem cells in the infarcted heart.” Biomaterials 35.25 (2014): 6850-8.
  • C. L. Hastings, E. T. Roche, E. Ruiz-Hernandez, K. Schenke-Layland, C. J. Walsh, and G. P. Duffy (co-first author). “Drug and cell delivery for cardiac regeneration.” Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 84 (2014): 85-106.

A full list of Ellen Roche’s publications can be found here.