Ellen Roche

  • Principal Investigator

B.Eng Biomedical Engineering - National University of Ireland, Galway
MSc Bioengineering - Trinity College Dublin
PhD Bioengineering - Harvard University

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, 2014, Hastings 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. 

She is currently the W.M Keck Foundation Career Development Professor at the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science and the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She directs the Therapeutic Technology Design and Development Lab.  She completed her PhD at Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Her research focuses on applying innovative technologies to the development of cardiac devices. Her research includes development of novel devices to repair or augment cardiac function using disruptive approaches such as soft robotics, combination of mechanical actuation with delivery of cell therapy, and use of light activated biodegradable adhesives. Dr. Roche was employed in the medical device industry for over five years as a research and development engineer and employs her understanding of the medical device industry and the regulatory pathways to medical device commercialization in her academic research. She holds 5 issued patents, with 8 pending and is the authors of over 60 conference/journal papers. She is the recipient of multiple awards including the Fulbright International Science and Technology Award, the Wellcome Trust Seed Award in Science, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a Charles H. Hood Award for Excellence in Child Health Research and an NIH Trailblazer Award.


Full list of Awards


Medtronic Best Project Award, Ireland

May 2004

Siemens Young Engineer of the Year Award, Ireland

May 2004

1st Place in Graduating Class, National University of Ireland, Galway

May 2004

Technical Excellence Award, Abbott Vascular

May 2008

Speak Out for Engineers (First Prize), Dublin

January 2009

International Fulbright Science and Technology Award

Aug 2011 - Aug 2014

Pierce Fellowship, Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Sept 2011 - May 2014

Best Master's Thesis Award, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

October 2011

1st place in Masters Class Examinations, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

October 2011

American Heart Association Predoctoral Award

Sept 2014 – Aug 2016

Seed Award in Science, Wellcome Trust/Health Research Board

June 2016 - June 2018

Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Research Award

June 2016 - June 2018

Athanasiou Best Paper Award, Biomedical Engineering Society

October 2018

Best Poster Award - Fulbright Science and Technology Award


National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award

March 2019

W. M. Keck Career Development Professorship in Biomedical Engineering, MIT

July 2019 - June 2021

Editor's Choice Award, Biomedical Engineering Society

October 2019

Thomas A. McMahon Mentoring Award

May 2020

National Institute of Health Trailblazer Award 

Sept 2020