Nicole: Finding elegant solutions

Nicole Black has been creating solutions since she was a little girl. As a girl, she grappled with hearing loss due to a perforated eardrum and wondered “why is such a simple problem so complicated?” After the Boston Marathon Bombing left countless others with a similar injury, she began a research collaboration with surgeons at Massachusetts Eye and Ear.

The procedure for repairing ruptured eardrums is a complex surgery that involves hours of anesthesia. In about 40% of cases, the surgery is not fully successful. Feeling frustrated that such a seemingly simple problem only had such a complex solution she set out to develop an alternative. Her work in materials science led to a groundbreaking formulation of a 3D printed material that has proven to be a near-perfect replacement for human eardrum tissue, paving the way for a promising new alternative.

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