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

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NSF invests $1 million in smartphone-based system for mobile infectious disease detection and epidemiology

Brian Cunningham is leading the Pathtracker project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of 10 "service system" projects funded by the National Science Foundation this year. The Pathtracker is a smartphone-based detection system designed to help quickly track the path of infectious diseases in the field. Cunningham is a Donald Biggar Willett Professor in Bioengineering and in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Illinois. Rashid Bashir, Abel Bliss Professor and Bioengineering department head, is co-PI on the project, and the team also includes Steven Lumetta of ECE and Ian Brooks of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, both at Illinois; and David Hirschberg of the University of Washington, Seattle.

MORE ON THE NSF AWARD FOR PATHTRACKER PROJECT

Photo of smartphone-based sensor chip.

Princess Imoukhuede earns BMES Young Innovator award

Princess Imoukhuede, assistant professor in Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign earned the 2015 Young Innovator of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering award from the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). During the Friday morning Young Innovators session on Cellular Engineering at the recent BMES annual meeting in Tampa, Fla., Imoukhuede delivered a special lecture, “Quantitation of PDGFRs on Fibroblasts Reveals Serum, Intra-Family Ligand, and Cross-Family Ligand Regulation.”

Photo of Princess Imoukhuede, Assistant Professor in Bioengineering.

Brightness-equalized quantum dots improve bioimaging
Photo of Andrew Smith on left and image of equalized quantum dots on right.
 

For decades, fluorescent dyes have been used to identify and view molecules in diseased tissue. This has aided in diagnosis, but the technique is limited by uneven brightness in stained tissue, making it difficult to separate diseased cells from healthy ones. A new imaging breakthrough developed by Andrew Smith, assistant professor in Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and group could lead to more effective diagnoses, as it fine-tunes the properties of light-emitting quantum dots, allowing for precise calibration and equalized brightness. The work was published recently in Nature Communications.

MORE ON IMPROVED QUANTUM DOTS


Elizabeth Sawicki wins national nanotech image competition
Photo of Elizabeth Sawicki.

Elizabeth Sawicki, MD/PhD student in Bioengineering, won the EnvisioNano competition for her image of gelatin nanoparticles safely delivering medicine to the brain for treatment of ischemic stroke. Her winning image and research description are featured on the nano.gov website. In her experiment, the drug molecules were encapsulated in the nanoparticles and transported to the brain of a lab rat that inhaled the medicine. Sawicki observed some healing of the brain and a significant reduction in brain damage. The research results were published in the journal Drug Delivery and Translational Research.

MORE ON SAWICKI'S AWARD AND THE IMAGE


Alumnus Eric Heinz to lead healthcare investment banking at financial firm

Eric Heinz, 2001 Bioengineering graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has joined Emergent Financial Group, Inc., as managing director of Healthcare Investment Banking. In his new position, he will guide the group’s strategic advisory and investment-related services to support teams working to improve patient outcomes and reduce the cost of healthcare delivery. Previously Heinz was involved in product development and commercialization management for leading medical device companies that include Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Intuitive Surgical, and Zimmer.

MORE ON HEINZ’ NEW POSITION


Greg Damhorst, MD/PhD student in Bioengineering at Illinois, talks about his research in developing point-of-care diagnostics, his interest in global health care, and why he chose Illinois.

SEE THE GREG DAMHORST VIDEO

Photo of Greg Damhorst, MD/PhD student in Bioengineering.

Surgical probe seeks out where cancer ends and healthy tissue begins

When surgeons remove cancerous tumors, they also take some of the surrounding tissue to ensure that no cancer cells are left behind. Typically this meant that the tissue was sent to a lab to determine if any cancer cells were still present in that localized tissue. With a new imaging probe developed by Stephen Boppart, Abel Bliss Professor in Bioengineering, and team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, this determination becomes much more effective, as it now can be done in the operating room before the surgery is finished. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and was published in the journal Cancer Research.

MORE ON THE NEW PROBE

Photo of Prof. Boppart's new probe.

Illinois researcher and colleagues build a genomic platform to further understand E. coli

More lives might be saved if we understood better how genes and evolutionary mechanisms make some E. coli strains pathogenic while keeping the majority of them harmless. UI Professor and Bliss Faculty Scholar Sergei Maslov (pictured here on the left) and colleagues analyzed more than 30 strains of E. coli and built a basic genomic platform for this species. This new resource expands the understanding of how evolution in E. coli works, and it provides reference information against which new strains can be compared. Pictured on the right is Maslov's colleague William Studier, from the Bookhaven National Laboratory. The paper was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

MORE ON THE NEW E. COLI PLATFORM

Photo of Sergei Maslov, left, and William Studier, right.
The Rejuvenation of Everitt Lab.

In early 2016, the University will renovate Everitt Laboratory, and the building will become the new home of the Department of Bioengineering. We are excited to celebrate the storied history of this campus landmark via highlights in this newsletter and online at EVERITT.ILLINOIS.EDU.

BUILDING UPON THE LEGACY OF WILLIAM L. EVERITT

Photo of William Everitt.Researchers developed at least 10 different types of antennae in Everitt Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They worked at the forefront of radio engineering and telecommunications breakthroughs. From early communications engineering to enhancements in solar panels, electric vehicles, and the power grid, Everitt Lab has been the home to a broad range of work in electrical engineering (now electrical and computer engineering). And much of this progress can be traced to pioneer, leader and role model William Littell Everitt.

Everitt served a year in the U.S. Marine Corps and then earned degrees in EE from Cornell University and the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in Physics at The Ohio State University, while also beginning his career as an educator. For two years at North Electric Manufacturing, he was the engineer in charge of early telephone switchboard system design, and in 1944, he served as the director of operations research at the U.S. Army Signal Corps, where his work earned him the Exceptionally Meritorious Civilian Award in 1946.

Everitt was an inventor — of automated telephone equipment, radio amplification and frequency modulation, and more — a radio electronics pioneer, a recipient of high honors and awards, and the author of classic textbooks on radio engineering and communications. His book, “Communications Engineering,” first published in 1932, remained in wide use for more than two decades.

In the early 1940s while he was serving his country for the second time, Everitt was selected in absentia to guide the EE department at Illinois as professor and department head. In 1949, he became dean of the College of Engineering at Illinois and served in that position until 1968 when he retired from the University. He died in 1986.

ECE faculty members continue to honor Dean Everitt through their exceptional work in undergraduate teaching, as recognized by the Everitt Award for Teaching Excellence, a collegewide award presented annually to one outstanding engineering faculty member.

The Department of Bioengineering is proud to pay tribute to William L. Everitt by bringing his namesake building back to prominence and continuing his legacy of leadership and service as engineering pioneers.

Background information courtesy of the College of Engineering and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Illinois.

 

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