Alum Aaron Morris Chosen for TED Talk


Chosen for his innovative diagnostic methods, SEAS alum Aaron Morris has been selected as a TED Fellow.

Morris who completed his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Yale in 2017, will give a talk on his research at the TED Conference in Vancouver in April. His research is based on diagnosing illness with the use of a porous disk that’s placed under the skin and collects tissue cells. 

“We then take a biopsy of these implants and then isolate all the RNA from these cells, and we use that to look at gene expression,” said Morris, now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan. They then create a panel of genes relevant to the disease they’re considering and use machine learning to analyze the likelihood of the presence of that disease. It’s a useful tool for diseases that aren’t easily diagnosed, such as multiple sclerosis or cancer that has metastasized. Conventional biopsies are impossible for diseases that affect the brain or spinal cord, and very unreliable for diseases that have spread widely throughout the body.  

Morris said the method is very promising, and he’s excited about presenting it to a wider audience. To that end, a TED talk is a great platform. TED Conferences (the acronym stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design) have featured talks from authors, scientists, entrepreneurs and other fields. 

“Because these ideas are a little unconventional, I wanted to bring attention to them,” he said “The audience is typically well-informed, and these talks all go up on the internet and get tons of viewers. It’s a good way to bring attention to an idea.”