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

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New life for EBICS project as $25 million NSF grant is renewed

The National Science Foundation recently committed $25 million in funding to continue the work of the Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems (EBICS) program during the next five years. EBICS researchers are creating biological machines to deliver drugs more effectively, function as internal diagnostic tools, or serve as contaminant sensors and neutralizers in the field. In addition to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the multi-institution EBICS project, for which UI Bioengineering Department Head Rashid Bashir is co-principal investigator, also includes the Georgia Institute of Technology; lead institution, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and eight other institutions that provide research assistance.

MORE ON EBICS RENEWAL


Beckman Institute researchers awarded $2 million NIH brain initiative grant
Researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology have received more than $2 million dollars over three years from the National Institutes of Health BRAIN Initiative to develop an analytical platform that can lead to new insights in neuroscience and create diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities in treating neurological diseases. Photo of Jonathan Sweedler, Martha Gillette, and Rohit Bhargava.
The BRAIN team includes researchers pictured here, Rohit Bhargava (far right), professor of Bioengineering, and from the Bioengineering Graduate Program Faculty — Jonathan Sweedler (far left), professor of Chemistry, and Martha Gillette (center), professor of Cell and Developmental Biology.

MORE ON NEW BRAIN INITIATIVE


Illinois' new Resilience Engineering in Sepsis Care program

Sepsis, the systemic spread of the human body’s response to infection, kills millions of people each year. With a strong antibiotic regimen, sepsis can be treated, but it must be diagnosed and addressed promptly. Through the new Resilience Engineering in Sepsis Care initiative, researchers and physicians in Central Illinois are combining forces to simulate sepsis data and develop ways to improve patient diagnosis and care. Medical partners include the Carle Health System and OSF HealthCare, Peoria. Among the researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are Rashid Bashir, Bioengineering department head, and Ryan Bailey, Chemistry professor and member of the Bioengineering Graduate Program Faculty, who are bringing their point-of-care diagnostic device work to the program.

MORE ON THE SEPSIS PROGRAM


Dipanjan Pan and team garner Translational Research Award
Photo of Dipanjan Pan.

The Michael Reese Foundation selected a University of Illinois interdisciplinary project for a 2015-2016 two UI professors for a Translational Research Award. The team that is developing a highly novel therapy for multiple myeloma includes Bioengineering Assistant Professor Dipanjan Pan, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his colleague, Pritesh Patel, M.D., Hematology, University of Illinois at Chicago.

MORE ON THE MICHAEL REESE FOUNDATION


Rashid Bashir elected Fellow of BMES
Photo of Rashid Bashir.

Rashid Bashir, Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering and Bioengineering department head, recently was named a Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society and was recognized during the BMES annual meeting in October in Tampa, Fla. Fellow status is awarded to BMES members who demonstrate exceptional achievements and experience in the field of biomedical engineering with a record of membership and participation in the Society. A portion of a Fellow’s annual dues funds BMES activities and student awards.

PROF. BASHIR’S RESEARCH
BMES FELLOWS LIST


Silver award goes to Illinois iGEM team, including four students from Bioengineering

Photo of 2015 UI iGEM team.
The International Genetically Engineered Machine jamboree is an international student-led competition to build and standardize biological parts for synthetic bioengineering research. The projects help undergraduate students gain research and business experience as they conceive of, design, develop, pitch and present their work. The University of Illinois team recently earned a silver award in the competition, which is hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (where the idea for the competition originated in the early 2000s). Bioengineering students pictured above are: Caroline Blassick (fourth from left), Miranda Dawson (sixth from left), Noah Flynn (eighth from left, leaning on yellow sculpture) and Pierce Hadley (fourth from right), and their project is an enhanced, customizable biosensor based on research originally done by Timothy Lu and team at MIT. The sensor could be used to detect contaminants in say, a water supply.

Explaining why she got involved, Blassick said, "My Bioengineering classes gave me the background I needed, and iGEM was the perfect opportunity to apply my new knowledge to a research project. Having such a large degree of personal responsibility in the project, and the freedom to influence its direction, has affirmed my goal of making a career out of research someday!"

"iGEM allowed me to challenge my idea of where the limits of bioengineering lie," said Dawson. "The work in synthetic biology is all extremely novel, and the fact that we can use the concept of computers and circuits and apply it to biology leads to unprecedented opportunities in bioengineering. Classes like BIOE 202 allowed me to gain hands-on experience in lab techniques such as plasmid transformation -- skills relevant to a synthetic biology project."

ABOUT THE 2015 IGEM PROJECT AT ILLINOIS
MORE ON IGEM


BIOE Alumnus Yipeng ‘Paul’ Zhang's company, Avant, achieves unicorn status

Online lender Avant recently achieved a $1 billion-plus valuation, known as “unicorn” status, after a round of new funding. Paul Zhang, 2009 Bioengineering graduate, is chief technology officer and one of the founders of the company. Avant offers four- to five-figure personal loans to clients in the United States and United Kingdom and, as the company recently announced, Canada, in the near future.

MORE ABOUT AVANT

Photo of Paul Zhang.
The Rejuvenation of Everitt Lab.

In early 2016, the University will begin renovation of Everitt Laboratory, and approximately 32 months later, the building will become the new home of the Department of Bioengineering. We are excited to share highlights of the project in this newsletter and online at EVERITT.ILLINOIS.EDU.

Save the Date: Senior Design and Everitt Lab Kickoff, Thursday, May 5, 2016; Details to come.

Bioengineering Seniors, please let your families know that a Save the Date postcard will be mailed to them in December.

Alumni, Friends, Students, Faculty and Staff, the Department of Bioengineering, College of Engineering, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign look forward to your presence at these milestone events in May 2016. Please watch for more information to come, which will be posted as it becomes available. Can't wait to celebrate the accomplishments of our seniors and the promise of the future in Everitt Lab with all of you!

 

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