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  • Bioengineering breakthroughs often arise from deceptively simple solutions, leveraging scalability, modularity and ease-of-use. However, certain biomedical applications require the integration of custom-engineered, patient-specific complexity. Striking this simplicity–complexity balance will drive affordable, globalized health innovations.

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  • Global health-related research and development continues to uphold colonialist structures, concentrating knowledge generation and innovation to high-income countries, thereby hindering global health equity. Therefore, in addition to engineering new technologies, bioengineers will need to try to engineer equitable relationships.

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  • Prosthetic embodiment, or the incorporation of a prosthesis into one’s sensory and functional body schema, may be achieved by engineering bionic limbs that leverage a closed-loop mechanoneural–machine interface. However, the subjective experience of embodiment remains difficult to define and assess.

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  • Bioplastics have yet to make an impact in addressing plastics pollution. Policy measures, innovation and public discourse are needed to address misconceptions, clarify labelling and ensure their effective end-of-life management.

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  • A long-standing nanoparticle delivery paradigm in cancer, that is, the enhanced permeability and retention effect, has been challenged, shifting the focus to active delivery mechanisms, which may provide a new mechanistic foundation for nanoparticle design.

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  • The struggle of establishing a successful academic career while starting a family drives many researchers, in particular, women, out of academia. Pausing the academic clock and individualizing performance assessment may thus help reduce gender inequalities in academia.

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  • One year in, we take stock of the areas we published, our outreach efforts and our authorship, looking ahead at what comes next in Nature Reviews Bioengineering.

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  • Academic research plays a central role in the translational ecosystem, sitting on one end of the valley of death, that is, the gap between preclinical research and real-world clinical applications. Considering clinical need and applicability early in research and development, and knowing about regulatory and commercialization processes, may help academics push innovations across the valley.

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  • Engineered food has taken the step out of laboratories and started entering the market. However, whether engineered food technologies present a real opportunity for systemic change will depend on research advances, socio-political and economic considerations and acceptance by consumers.

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  • Academic bullying, discrimination and harassment affect the health and careers of many academics. Voices calling on action against academic bullying are getting louder. Empowering individuals to speak up will further turn up the volume to finally reduce the gap between anti-bullying policy drafts and genuine actions.

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  • Bioengineers need to adopt holistic and human-centred design principles in the development of technologies intended for applications in low-resource settings, to overcome infrastructural limitations and ensure functionality in all environments.

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  • Human-based in vitro models, such as organoids and organs-on-chips, may have the potential to replace certain animal models in preclinical research. But how much ‘human’ is needed in these models?

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  • Women’s health has long been overlooked in both fundamental and clinical research, which, sadly, also holds true for the bioengineering field — albeit things are slowly changing.

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  • Scientific knowledge is mostly communicated in English, which may pose a barrier for non-native English speakers in writing and talking about their research. However, scientific communication can be improved by following some simple rules and taking advantage of old and new tools.

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  • We encourage our authors to increase citation diversification and include a citation diversity statement in their Review articles.

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  • The debate on whether science has become less disruptive is white-hot, prompting us to reflect on how such observation mirrors in an inherently multidisciplinary field such as bioengineering.

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  • Nanotechnology has become a key player in bioengineering, providing control and functions of bioengineered systems at the scale of cells and biomolecules.

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  • Welcome to the very first issue of Nature Reviews Bioengineering, a new Nature Reviews journal covering all areas of bioengineering, with a particular focus on translation, inclusivity and accessibility.

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