Ellen Roche, MSc, PhD, BMedSci
Core Faculty
Latham Family Career Development Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Photo: Ellen Roche
etr [at] mit.edu
(617) 258-6024
Lab Phone
(617) 253-9757

77 Massachusetts Ave.

Cambridge, MA 02139

Administrative Assistant(s)
Zoe Conn
zconn [at] mit.edu
Ellen Roche, MSc, PhD, BMedSci
Core Faculty
Latham Family Career Development Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


  • B.Eng, NUIGalway, Ireland, 2004

  • MSc, Trinity College, Dublin, 2010

  • PhD, Harvard University, 2015

  • B. Med.Sci, RCSI/NUIGalway, Ireland


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

She directs the Therapeutic Technology Design and Development Lab TTDD at MIT. Since the creation of her lab, she has explored the intersection of mechanical and biological therapy delivery; for examples her group has described ways to modulate immune response using dynamic actuation (Dolan et al, Science Robotics 2019) and pioneered methods for coupling a direct cardiac compression device to the heart using the native biological response (Horvath et al, Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 2019). The group has used computational modeling to characterize the transport of biological therapy from implantable devices into cardiac tissue (Shirazi et al, Advanced Healthcare Materials, 2019) , and the mechanical effect of injecting hydrogels into diseased heart tissue (Fan et al, International Journal of Numerical Methods in Bioengineering, 2019). Recently, the group have described a biorobotic hybrid heart with imaged-based biomicry that combines organic tissue with synthetic soft robotic matrices (Park et al, Science Robotics, 2020).

Selected Awards/Societies

  • Future Founders Grand Prize, 2022
  • LabCentral Ignite Golden Ticket Award, 2022
  • Nature Inspiring Women in Science Shortlist, 2021
  • NIH Trailblazer Award for New and Early Stage Investigators, 2020
  • Thomas McMahon Mentoring Award, 2020
  • Associate Scientific Advisor of Science Translational Medicine, 2020
  • NSF CAREER Award, 2019-2024
  • Charles H. Hood Award for Excellence in Child Health Research, 2019-2021
  • NSF EFRI Award, 2019-2024
  • 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


  • American Heart Association
  • Americal Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • National Academy of Advancement in Science
  • Biomedical Engineering Society
  • Frontiers of Engineering

Professional Service

  • Reviewer, National Science Foundation
  • Ad Hoc Reviewer: Nature Medicine, Science Robotics, Soft Robotics, Annals of Biomedical Engineering,
  • Publication Chair, BioRob 2020

MIT Service

  • Medical Engineering and Medical Physics Admissions Committee
  • Health Sciences and Technology Medical Engineering and Medical Physics Academic Advisor
  • Health Sciences and Technology Integrated Committee for Academic Programs Committee
  • US Patent Application 2008073022 Multi-Piece PVA models with non-brittle connections,Issued Mar 27, 2008
  • US Patent Application 2007110280 Methods for Determining Coating Thickness of a Prosthesis, Issued May 17, 2007


Research in the Therapeutic Technology Design and Development Lab incorporates soft robotics, unique fabrication methods and computational analysis tools into the device design process to develop novel strategies fororgan assist andtissue repair. We design and develop implantable medical devices that augment or assist native function. Our work comprises three interrelated streams targeting unmet needs in cardiac (heart) and pulmonary (lung) medicine: (i) augmenting the remaining native function in failing organs/systems to restore functionality, (ii) introducing technologies to replace or repair focal deficits in tissues and deliver therapy and (iii) developing physiologically realistic in vitro, in vivoandin silico approaches suitable for testing cardiac or pulmonary technologies. Ultimately, the combined aim of our work is to translate enhanced devices into the clinical arena. Our lab has 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 preclinical test protocols.

Selected Publications

Roche ET. Not “dust” any neural stimulator. Science Translational Medicine  18 Mar 2020:Vol. 12, Issue 535, eabb2775. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abb2775. Link

Park C, Fan Y, Hager G, Yuk H, Singh M, Rojas A, Hameed A, Saeed M, Vasilyev NV, Steel TJW, Zhao X, Nguyen CT*, Roche ET*. An organosynthetic dynamic heart model with enhanced biomimicry guided by cardiac diffusion tensor imaging. Science Robotics 5;38;eaay9106. DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aay9106. Link

Yuk, H., Varela, C.E., Nabzdyk, C.S. et al. Dry double-sided tape for adhesion of wet tissues and devicesNature 575, 169–174 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1710-5

Dolan EB, Varela CE, Mendez K, Whyte W, Levey RE, Robinson ST, Maye E, O’Dwyer J, Beatty A, Rothman A, Fan Y, Hochstein J, Rothenbucher S, Wylie R, Starr JR, Monaghan M, Dockery P, Duffy GP, Roche ET. An actuatable soft reservoir modulates host foreign body responseScience Robotics 4;33;eaax7043 https://doi.org/10.1126/scirobotics.aax7043

Cobi A, Gray L , Mittmann E,  Link S,   Hanumara N,  Lyatskaya Y, Roche, ET, Slocum A , Zygmanski P (2019). Design of a Reconfigurable Quality Assurance Phantom for Verifying the Spatial Accuracy of Radiosurgery Treatments for Multiple Brain Metastases. Journal of Medical Devices. 13. 10.1115/1.4044402.

Shirazi RN, Islam S, Weafer FM, Villanyi A, Ronan W, McHugh PE, Roche ET. Multi-scale experimental and computational modeling approaches to characterize therapy delivery to the heart from an implantable epicardial biomaterial reservoir. Advanced Healthcare Materials 8 (16), 1970068 https://doi.org/10.1002/adhm.201900228

Fan Y, Ronan W, Teh I, Schneider JE, Varela CE, Whyte W, McHugh PE, Leen SB, Roche ET. A comparison of two quasi‐static computational models for assessment of intra‐myocardial injection as a therapeutic strategy for heart failure, International Journal of Numerical Methods in Biomedical Engineering, 25:9:e2313, 2019 https://doi.org/10.1002/cnm.3213

Roche, ET, Implanted Device Enables Responsive Bladder Control. Nature News and Views, January 2nd, 2019. doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-07811-1 Link

Varela C, Fan Y and Roche ET, Optimizing epicardial restraint and reinforcement following myocardial infarction: Moving towards localized, biomimetic, and multitherapeutic options (2019)Biomimetics, 4;1;7

Weafer FM, Duffy S, Machado IP, Roche ET, McHugh PE, Gilvarry M. Characterization of Strut Indentation during Mechanical Thrombectomy in Acute Ischemic Stroke Clot Analogues (2019). Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery,11;9;891-897

Whyte W*, Roche ET*, Shahrin I, Shirazi RS, Weafer, F, Mendez K, O’Neill HS, Vasilyev NV, McHugh PM, Murphy B, Duffy GP**, Walsh CJ**, and Mooney DJ**, Sustained release of targeted cardiac therapy with a replenishable implanted epicardial reservoir (2019). Nature Biomedical Engineering 2:6:416 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41551-018-0247-5 *co first-authors ** co senior authors

Horvath MA, Varela CE, Dolan EB, Whyte W, Monahan DS, Payne CJ, Wamala IA, Vasilyev NV, Pigula FA, Mooney DJ, Walsh CJ, Duffy GP, Roche ET. Towards Alternative Approaches for Coupling of a Soft Robotic Sleeve to the Heart. Ann Biomed Eng (2018) 46;10;1534-1547 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10439-018-2046-2

Full publication lists:

  • https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=7G8kZ-sAAAAJ&hl=en
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=ellen+t+roche


“Biomimetic actuation device and system, and methods for controlling a biomimetic actuation device and system”, Patent No. US10058647B2

“Catheter Device for Transmitting and Reflecting Light ” US Patent No. 10,588,695

“Perfusion dilation catheter system and methods of use”, US Patent No. US9480823B2

US Patent 7591198 (grant) Apparatus and System for measuring of particles generated from medical devices or instruments utilized during simulated clinical applications, Issued September 22nd 2009

US Patent 7591199 (grant) Method for measuring of particles generated from medical devices or instruments utilized during simulated clinical applications, Issued September 22nd 2009

US Patent Application 2008073817 Forming Pre- Made pieces of PVA into specific models,Issued March 27, 2008

US Patent Application 2008076101 Forming Vascular Diseases within Anatomical Models,Issued March 27, 2008

Courses Taught

  • HST 101 –SP 2023 –Respiratory Pathophysiology
  • HST 552(J)/2.75–SP 2023 –Medical Device Design
  • 2.009 Product Engineering Processes