Professor Michael Cima is involved in materials and engineered systems aimed at improving human health. He works on treatments for cancer, metabolic diseases, trauma, and urological disorders. His research includes advanced forming technologies for complex macro and micro devices, such as colloid science, micro-electromechanical systems, or MEMS, and other micro components for medical devices that are used for drug delivery and diagnostics, as well as development methods for formulations of materials and pharmaceutical formulations. Professor Cima is a co-inventor of MIT’s three-dimensional printing process. His research has led to the development of chemically derived epitaxial oxide films for high-temperature superconductor, or HTSC, coatings for conductors. He and collaborators are developing implantable MEMS devices for unprecedented control in the delivery of pharmaceuticals and implantable diagnostic systems.


Professor Cima joined MIT’s faculty in 1986 after earning a BS in chemistry and PhD in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2009, he was appointed faculty director of the Lemelson-MIT Program, which awards yearly prizes to inventors. Cima was appointed associate dean of innovation for the MIT School of Engineering in 2018 and has served as co-director of MIT’s Innovation Initiative. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Inventors, as well as a Fellow of the American Ceramics Society and recipient of the W. David Kingery Award. He is the author or co-author of more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific publications and 90 US patents and is a recognized expert in the field of medical devices and materials processing. Professor Cima has been active in the translation of new clinical technologies, including a new therapy for bladder cancer.

Key Publications

A portable single-sided magnetic-resonance sensor for the grading of liver steatosis and fibrosis

Developed a noninvasive diagnostic tool to detect fatty liver disease and liver fibrosis using nuclear magnetic resonance. We calculated the rate of water diffusion through liver cells by tracking magnetization changes of hydrogen in water. Low water diffusivity indicates that fatty liver cells are present.

There’s a lack of low-cost noninvasive tools for following the progression of fatty liver disease to fibrosis, cirrhosis, and eventual failure. Fibrosis is usually diagnosed through an invasive biopsy only when patients present with symptoms.

Diagnosing liver damage earlier can help prevent organ failure, aid drug development efforts, and evaluate human livers for transplant potential.

Awards & Honors

W. David Kingery Award, The American Ceramics Society
Elected member, National Academy of Inventors
Elected member, National Academy of Engineering
Fellow, The American Ceramics Society