Guillermo Ulises Ruiz Esparza is the first Mexican to have been given the “Pegasus” Future of Health Technology Award by the MIT Media Lab for his innovative contributions to medicine and nanotechnology. Ruiz Esparza heads the Molecular Nanosystems research group within the Health Sciences and Technology division that is run jointly by Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Tec Review chatted with the Mexican researcher, who is a Tecnológico de Monterrey graduate.
What opportunities do you find in the fusion of two areas of knowledge?
I trained in medical and technological areas to be able to talk about and understand both clinical-medical and technological-engineering jargon. I see patients, treat them, and know what their problems are firsthand. This gives me a competitive advantage because I know what the problem to be addressed is. The technological side gives me a springboard for creating innovative solutions and solving these problems.
What motivated you to venture into nanotechnology?
Everything we do in my research group is technology. The goal is to ensure that what we create gets to patients, clinics, and the marketplace. We’ve co-founded various companies (Veri Nano and Veri Seal) and attracted investors who’ve put millions of dollars into these companies. We have offices in Boston, China, and Sweden.
What does this award mean to you?
I’m honored that experts consider what we’re doing, in my research group or in the companies, is of value, that they think it can really have an impact on the future of technology and medicine, and can change many people’s lives. They recognize that we’re on the right track, that what we’re doing can revolutionize medicine.
How do you encourage other Mexicans?
When I was studying my PhD at Houston, the laboratory of my mentor, Doctor Guillermo Torre, was a springboard for many Mexicans. He gave opportunities to students who were finishing their degree courses to do research, get experience, make contacts and get recommendations, the support for taking the next step. I wanted to do that too, so I made an agreement with the Tec.
I talked to other researchers at Harvard to find out if they were interested in receiving students. At my laboratory, we currently receive approximately 60 students from the Tec and other universities every semester.