A panel of students and instructors discuss the research issues regarding and the future of the IGERT program at Illinois.
Dr. Rashid Bashir Rashid Bashir completed his BSEE from Texas Tech University as the highest ranking graduate in the College of Engineering in Dec 1987. He completed his MSEE from Purdue University in 1989 and Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1992. From Oct 1992 to Oct 1998, he worked at National Semiconductor in the Analog/Mixed Signal Process Technology Development Group where he was promoted to Sr. Engineering Manager. He joined Purdue University in Oct 1998 as Assistant Professor and was later promoted to Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a Courtesy Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. Since Oct 2007, he is the Abel Bliss Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering & Bioengineering, Director of the Micro and NanoTechnology Laboratory (a campus wide clean room facility) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and Director of the campus-side Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, a collaboratory aimed to facilitate center grants and large initiatives around campus in the area of nanotechnology. He has authored or co-authored over 150 journal papers, over 200 conference papers and conference abstracts, over 120 invited talks, and has been granted 34 patents. He is a fellow of IEEE, AIMBE, AAAS, and APS.
His research interests include BioMEMS, Lab on a chip, nano-biotechnology, interfacing biology and engineering from molecular to tissue scale, and applications of semiconductor fabrication to biomedical engineering, all applied to solve biomedical problems. He has been involved in 2 startups that have licensed his technologies.
In addition to his own research group, he is the PI on an NSF IGERT on Cellular and Molecular Mechanics and Bionanotechnology and PI on an NIH Training Grant on Cancer Nanotechnology. He is also a project lead on an NSF Science and Technology Center on Emergent Behavior of Integrated Biological Systems (head quartered at MIT, and partners at GT and UIUC).
Dr. Rohit Bhargava Professor Rohit Bhargava is the Bliss Faculty Scholar and an Associate Professor, Engineering and Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Bhargava received dual B.Tech. degrees (in Chemical Engineering and Polymer Science and Engineering) from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, and his doctoral thesis work at Case Western Reserve University was in the area of polymer spectroscopy.
Subsequently, he worked as a Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health in the area of biomedical vibrational spectroscopy. Research in the Bhargava laboratories focuses on fundamental optical theory for vibrational spectroscopic imaging, developing new instrumentation, application of spectroscopic imaging to biomedical and polymer problems, and numerical analyses. Dr. Bhargava's work has been recognized with several research and teaching awards, including Applied Spectroscopy's Meggers Award, and he is routinely nominated to the list of teachers ranked "excellent" at Illinois. (Source)
Dr. Steve Boppart Prof. Boppart graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in 1990 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and an option in Bioengineering. Continuing at UIUC, he completed his M.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1991, where he developed microfabricated multi-electrode arrays for neural recordings. From 1991 to 1993, at the Air Force Laser Laboratory in San Antonio, Texas, he conducted research on laser-tissue interactions in the eye, helping establish national laser safety standards. Prof. Boppart then went on to MIT, receiving his Ph.D. in 1998 in Medical and Electrical Engineering. His doctoral studies included the development of optical coherence tomography in Prof. Jim Fujimoto's laboratory. As part of a joint program between MIT and Harvard, Prof. Boppart completed his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in June 2000. Currently, Prof. Boppart is a full professor with appointments in the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Bioengineering, and Medicine at UIUC. He is Head of the Biophotonics Imaging Laboratory at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and along with a team of 25 researchers, is investigating novel optical diagnostic imaging technologies for basic science and translational clinical applications. From 2006-2008, he served as Founding Director of the Mills Breast Cancer Institute, and holds a joint position with Carle Foundation Hospital and Carle Clinic Association in Urbana, Illinois. His efforts included constructing a new building and developing new infrastructure to support translational research and technology development in breast cancer research between UIUC and Carle Foundation Hospital. Currently he is initiating efforts to direct a campus-wide Illinois Imaging Initiative intended to leverage the strengths and diversity of over 100 faculty working in all aspects of imaging science, technology, and application.
Dr. Ann Nardulli Professor Nardulli attained her B.S from Northern Illinois University in education. She obtained her M.S. and PhD. degrees at the University of Illinois. She also completed her post-doctoral training at the University of Illinois. Her research interests include: Chromatin Structure, Endocrinology, Protein-Nucleic Acid Interactions, Receptor Biochemistry, Regulation of Gene Expression, Reproductive Biology and Signal Transduction. She is currently a professor of Molecular and Integrative physiology at the University of Illinois.
Dr. Taher Saif Professor Saif's research focuses on the mechanics of nanoscale materials and living cells. He uses both theory and experiment to explore (1) the effect of size on the mechanics of materials, and (2) the role of mechanical force in determining the functionality of cells and cell clusters.
Professor Saif demonstrated experimentally, for the first time, that plastic deformation in nanocrystalline metal films can be reversible. After plastic deformation, metals with grain sizes between 50 and 100 nanometers recover most of their plastic strain under macroscopically stress-free condition. This recovery is time dependent and thermally activated. Saif showed that the recovery originates from the small size and heterogeniety of microstructure of the metal specimens. The research, which was reported in Science, raises the possibility of manufacturing metal components that can heal themselves after being deformed or dented.
In the area of cellular mechanics, Professor Saif's projects involve neurons, cancer and cardiac cells, and interactions between cells in clusters. He seeks to address questions such as: What is the role of tension in neurons on memory and learning? Does mechanical microenvironment influence the onset of metastasis during cancer development? Can clusters of cells be guided so that they evolve into biological machines? He, together with Professor Akira Chiba of the the University of Maimi, showed that neurons are under mechanical tension, and that such tension might be essential for memory and learning.
Mike Gregory After spending his adolescence in the Chicago suburbs, Michael Gregory attended DePauw University where he earned a bachelor's degree in biochemistry in 2008. Following graduation, he returned to the Chicago area and joined the R&D division of a major biopharmaceutical company where he assisted development of protein based therapies for the treatment of pulmonary disorders. In 2009, he came to the University of Illinois and is currently a biochemistry graduate student working in the laboratory of Dr. Stephen Sligar. Here he is studying the steroidogenic enzyme Cytochrome P450c17 (CYP17), which catalyzes the first committed step in androgen formation. As a result of CYP17's role as gatekeeper to androgen biosynthesis it is a front line target in the fight against castration-resistant prostate cancer, which proliferates in response to androgen receptor activation. Michael hopes to integrate knowledge gleaned from rigorous biophysical characterization of CYP17 catalysis with emerging diagnostic and nanotechnologies to encourage development of next-generation therapeutics for the treatment of androgen responsive malignancies such as castration-resistant prostate cancer.
Erich Lidstone Erich Lidstone is a graduate student in the Bioengineering Department, and is working with Prof. Brian Cunningham and the Nano Sensors Group. His current research is dedicated to the application of photonic crystal (PC) biosensors for high-resolution label-free imaging of cell attachment, growth, and differentiation. Recently developed by Cunningham et al., PC biosensors are uniquely suited to provide continuous information about cellular activity in the absence of potentially cytotoxic fluorophores and colorimetric labels. As a member of the UIUC Medical Scholars Program, Erich plans to complete his M.D. at the University of Illinois and to pursue a research career in diagnostic medicine. While not engaged by extracellular matrices and photonic crystals, Erich enjoys cycling, kayaking, and a variety of mountain sports he picked up while growing up in New Hampshire.
Midwest Cancer Nanotechnology Traning Center (M-CNTC) Training the next generation of leaders who will define the new frontiers and applications of nanotechnology in cancer research It is known that more than 1.5 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer during 2010, and half a million have died (Cancer Statistics 2010, ACS). In spite of considerable effort, there has been limited success in reducing per capita deaths from cancer since 1950. This calls for a paradigm shift in the understanding, detection, and intervention of the evolution of cancer from a single cell to tumor scale.
In response to this challenge the M-CNTC has assembled a preeminent interdisciplinary team of researchers and educators across the University of Illinois and clinical collaborators in the Midwest to train the next generation of engineers, physical scientists, and biologists to address the challenge of understanding, managing, diagnosing, and treating cancer using the most recent advancements in nanotechnology.
Cellular and Molecular Mechanics and Bionanotechnology (CMMB-IGERT) Training the next generation of leaders who will define the new frontiers of cellular and molecular mechanics and bionanotechnology Critical experiments during the last decade show a fundamental link between the micro- and macro-mechanical environment (i.e., intracellular forces, local shear, gravitational force) and a variety of cell functionalities, their lineage, and phenotype. These findings pose the grand challenge: what is the underlying molecular mechanism that cells employ to transduce mechanical signals to biochemical pathways?
In response to this challenge the CMMB IGERT launched an interdisciplinary research effort with national and international collaborators.
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University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL