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Ellen Roche

Contact Info

room E25-334

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

77 Massachusetts Avenue

Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139


  • 2015

    Harvard University


Research Interests

Research in the Therapeutic Technology Design and Development Lab incorporates engineering advances in manufacturing technologies and computational analysis tools into the device design process to develop novel therapeutic strategies for tissue repair. We design and develop implantable medical devices that augment or assist native function. We borrow principles from nature to design implantable, biomimetic therapeutic devices. Research is broadly categorized into three areas (i) mechanical assist and repair devices, (ii) biomaterial and therapy delivery devices and (iii) enhanced preclinical and computational test model development. Ultimately, the combined aim of our work is to translate enhanced therapeutic 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 laboratory and pre-clinical test protocols.


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.

Honors + Awards

  • Associate Scientific Advisor of Science Translational Medicine, 2020
    • NSF CAREER Award 2019
    • 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

MIT Service

MEMP Admissions Committee

HST MEMP Academic Advisor

HICAP Committee


Fall 2017 - 2.75 Medical Device Design

Fall 2018 - 2.009 Product Design



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. Nature Biomedical Engineering, online, 2018. *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.


Wamala I, Roche ET, Pigula FA, The use of soft robotics in cardiovascular therapy, Expert Review of Cardiovascular Therapy, Vol. 15, Iss. 10, 2017 Link

Horvath MA, Wamala I, Rytkin E, Doyle E, Payne CJ, Thalhofer T, Berra I, Wamala I, Solovyeva A, Saeed M, Hendren S, Roche ET, Del Nido PJ, Walsh CJ, Vasilyev NV. An Intracardiac Soft Robotic Device for Augmentation of Blood Ejection from the Failing Right Ventricle, Annals of Biomedical Engineering, pp. 1-12, 2017. Link

Payne CJ. Wamala I, Abah C, Thalhofer T, Saeed M, Bautista-Salinas D, Horvath MA, Vasilyev NV, Roche ET, Pigula FA, Walsh CJ. Soft robotic ventricular assist device with septal bracing for therapy of heart failure. Soft Robotics. May 2017. Link

Roche ET, Horvath MA, Wamala I, Alazmani A,  Song SE, Whyte W, Machaidze Z, Vasilyev NV, Mooney DJ, Pigula FA, and Walsh CJ. Soft Robotic Sleeve Restores Heart Function. Science Translational Medicine 2017. Link


O’Neill HS,  Gallagher LB, O’Sullivan J, Whyte W, Curley C,  Dolan E, Hameed A, O’Dwyer J, Payne C, O’Reilly D,  Ruiz-Hernandez E, Roche ET, F. J. O’Brien, S. A. Cryan, H. Kelly, B. Murphy, and G. P. Duffy. Biomaterial-Enhanced Cell and Drug Delivery: Lessons Learned in the Cardiac Field and Future Perspectives. Advanced Materials 2016. Link

Cezar CA, Roche ET, Vandenburgh HH, G. N. Duda, Walsh CJ, and Mooney DJ. Biologic-free mechanically induced muscle regeneration. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2016.  DOI10.1073/pnas.1517517113. Link


Roche ET, Fabozzo A, Lee Y, Polygerinos P, Friehs I, Schuster L, Casar Berazaluce AM, Cearbhaill ED, Vasilyev NV, Mooney DJ, Karp JM, del Nido, PJ, Walsh CJ. A light reflecting balloon for atraumatic tissue defect closure. Science Translational Medicine (Front cover) 2015: 7(306):149, DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa2406 Link


Hastings CL, Roche ET, Ruiz-Hernandez E, Schenke-Layland K, Walsh CJ, Duffy GP. Drug and cell delivery for cardiac regeneration. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 2014 DOI:10.1016/j.addr.2014.08.006 Link

Roche ET, Hastings CL, Lewin SA, Shvartsman DE, Brudno Y, Vasilyev NV, O’Brien FJ, Walsh CJ, Duffy GP, Mooney DJ. Comparison of biomaterial delivery vehicles for improving acute retention of stem cells in the infarcted heart. Biomaterials 2014. 35(25):6850-8. DOI 0.1016/j.biomaterials.2014.04.114. Link

Roche ET, Wohlfarth R, Overvelde JTB, Vasilyev NV, Pigula FA, Mooney DJ, Bertoldi K, Walsh CJ. A Bioinspired Soft Actuated Material. Advanced Materials (Front Cover) 2014. 26,1200-1206. DOI: 10.1002/adma.201304018. Link

Isakov A, Murdaugh K, Burke WC, Zimmerman S, Roche ET, Holland D, Einarsson JI, Walsh CJ. A New Laparoscopic Morcellation Using an Actuated Wire Mesh and Bag. Journal of medical devices 2014:8:011009-5. Link


Frech AJ, Orozco D, Davoudi K, Ding C, Field R, Yasin R, Roche ET, Holland D and Walsh CJ. Laparoscopic Device for Direct and Indirect Suction. J. Med. Devices 2013:7(3),P030920 Link

Wan Q, Schoppe O, Gunasekaran S, Holland D, Roche ET, Hur H-C, Walsh CJ. Multifunctional laparoscopic trocar with built-in fascial closure and stabilisation. J. Med. Devices 7(3), 030912 (Jul 03, 2013) Link


O’Flynn P, Roche ET, Pandit A. Generating an ex vivo vascular model. ASAIO 2005; 51(4):426-33 Link


US Patent Application PCT/61/887,310 Biomimetic actuation device and system andmethods for controlling a biomimetic actuation device and system, Filed October 4th 2014

US PCT Patent Application. Catheter for transmitting and reflecting light, Filed May 14th 2015

Patent Application 20120226303 Perfusion Dilation Catheter System and Methods of Use,Medtronic Vascular, Issued September 6th 2012

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

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