Growth Factors, news from the Department of Bioengineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Bioengineering Founder Professor Tandy Warnow and team's work reveals key events in plant evolution

Photo of Tandy Warnow and tree, representing the tree of life.
Tandy Warnow
, Founder Professor in Bioengineering and in Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is part of an international research team that developed new tools to analyze DNA sequences of plants to better understand their evolution and the relationships among them. The study recently was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Part of the One Thousand Plants (1KP) initiative, the project already is inspiring researchers to launch similar studies across other organisms.

MORE ABOUT DR. WARNOW'S PLANT EVOLUTION RESEARCH

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Bioengineering's Assistant Professor Ting Lu leads development of new process for producing antimicrobial peptide

Photo of Ting Lu and illustration of peptide production.

Nisin is an important antimicrobial peptide that is effective against a broad spectrum of pathogens. It is widely used in the food industry as a natural food preservative and in therapeutics as a promising alternative to antibiotics. Assistant Professor of Bioengineering Ting Lu and Wentao Kong, research associate in Bioengineering, developed a lactic acid bacteria strain that is able to overproduce bioactive nisin with a yield six times greater than that of the original. The increase in productivity enables enormous applications in biotechnology, including new use in food safety and pathogen control. The research was published as the cover story in ACS Synthetic Biology in July 2014 and was the subject of a podcast interview with Lu and the journal's managing editor.

ON THE TEAM: Wentao Kong and Ting Lu

READ THE COVER ARTICLE IN ACS SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY

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Jack Hou, M.D./Ph.D. student in Bioengineering among newest CSE Fellows

Photo of Jack Hou.

Bioengineering's Jack Hou is one of eight graduate students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign selected to receive the Computational Science and Engineering fellowship for the current academic year. Hou, whose primary research interest is in cancer gonomics, is a member of the Computational Comparative Genomics Lab of Jian Ma, Bioengineering Assistant Professor. As a CSE Fellow, Hou will present his research at the annual CSE Symposium in Spring 2015.

MORE ON THE CSE FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM

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Three with Bioengineering ties among leaders of BD2K -- new UI-Mayo Clinic collaboration to revolutionize genomic data analysis


Jun Song
, Founder Professor in Bioengineering and in Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is one of the Principal Investigators of a new National Institutes of Health-supported program, the Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative, which establishes a Center of Excellence at Illinois. The center, jointly operated by Illinois and Mayo Clinic, will work on developing an analytical tool to help researchers include their datasets in the community of published genomics data to advance the body of knowledge and educational opportunities related to use of the data. Also among the PIs on the project are Saurabh Sinha and C. Victor Jongeneel, members of the Graduate Program Faculty in Bioengineering at Illinois.

ON THE TEAM: Jiawei Han, Saurabh Sinha, Jun Song, Richard Weinshilboum, and C. Victor Jongeneel

MORE ABOUT THE NEW BD2K PROJECT

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Illinois hosts successful Frontiers in Bioengineering Symposium

Photo of Steven Chu, Andreas Cangellaris, Rashid Bashir.

The Frontiers in Bioengineering Symposium drew more than 200 participants and almost 30 leading figures in bioengineering from across the country — and one from Switzerland. These distinguished researchers and educators presented their forward-looking research in bioengineering and related fields during technical sessions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, September 7-9, 2014.

Steven Chu (pictured here on left), professor of bio-physics at Stanford University, former U.S. Secretary of Energy, and co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics, delivered the keynote address on the development of new bioimaging technologies during the Monday night Speakers’ Dinner held at the Grainger Library on campus.

Also pictured here are College of Engineering Dean Andreas Cangellaris (center) and Bioengineering Department Head Rashid Bashir (right), symposium organizer.

The symposium also featured the work of 29 young investigators from across the country — junior faculty who presented posters and were nominated to participate in the symposium by their department heads. Four of these researchers received Best Poster awards, and four earned Honorable Mentions.

The multidisciplinary event, supported by the Grainger Engineering Breakthroughs Initiative, concluded with the expectation that it would continue on a biennial basis and with discussion from representatives of other universities, who expressed interest in hosting it in the future.

MORE ABOUT THE RECENT FRONTIERS SYMPOSIUM

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