With her generous gift of $8 million, the late Millicent Bell established the Eugene Bell Center for Regenerative Biology and Tissue Engineering at the MBL in 2010 in memory of her late husband, Eugene Bell.
Millicent Bell was a Professor of English at Boston University and the author of a number of books including Edith Wharton and Henry James: The Story of Their Friendship and Hawthorne’s View of the Artist, Meaning in Henry James, and Shakespeare's Tragic Skepticism. Her book, Marquand: An American Life, was nominated for the National Book Award in biography and for the Pulitzer Prize. Her career included many honors, including a Howard Foundation Fellowship, the Shell Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Winship Prize for biography. Millicent attended Washington Square College, now NYU. She made her home in Boston and Falmouth until her death in 2015.
Eugene Bell earned a doctorate in biology from Brown in 1954 and joined MIT in 1956. In the 1970s, Dr. Bell and others at MIT experimented with skin cells in an effort to generate replacement tissue for treating severe burns and other injuries. They were able to implant a patient’s own skin cells in a matrix of collagen gel and grow “skin equivalents” that included both dermal and epidermal cells.
After retiring from MIT in 1986, Dr. Bell helped found Organogenesis Inc. to produce replacement skin, other tissue and wound-healing products, where he served as president and chief scientific officer from 1986 to 1991. He then founded TEI Biosciences, which applies its expertise in regenerative medicine to develop and commercialize novel biologic products for a broad spectrum of soft tissue repair and reinforcement applications, including: dura, tendon, and hernia repair; pelvic-floor reconstruction; wound management; and plastic and reconstructive surgery.
Gene was a valued member of the MBL scientific community and he and Millicent were a part of the fabric of the MBL and Woods Hole for many years. At the Ceremony announcing the new center Millicent said, “Gene was passionate about science and passionate about the MBL,” said Millicent Bell. “I am so pleased to be able to honor my husband and his many contributions to science in this way. The MBL is a special place, and I am truly delighted to partner with the Rowe family to launch the Eugene Bell Center for Regenerative Biology and Tissue Engineering at the MBL.”