The department of bioengineering fuels entrepreneurship by blending academic rigor with practical support, which nurtures an environment of innovation and entrepreneurial thinking. Faculty mentorship and industry ties offer invaluable guidance, while top-notch labs and collaborative spaces foster innovation. Through partnerships and funding avenues, the department empowers aspiring entrepreneurs to develop and launch impactful solutions born from their groundbreaking ideas. 

Through their hard work, creativity, and practical knowledge, students and faculty in the department of bioengineering have created important medical devices, built startups, and more. 

Cara Bognar, Top Tier Lessons

Bioengineering student Cara Bognar's startup Top Tier Lessons is taking the world of sports coaching by storm.

University of Illinois Award for Excellence in Innovation winners

Rapid Biomarker Detection 

Bioengineering graduate student Janet Sorrells is working on novel sensing technologies for biomedical applications at the Biophotonics Imaging Laboratory to address critical needs for improving speed and accuracy. Janet has used her technology to characterize metabolic signatures of extracellular vesicles in cancer with the hope of using her technology for rapid biomarker detection in clinical screening and diagnostics.

Rapid, Scalable, and Portable Testing Systems

Guanhua Xun, a graduate student in bioengineering, is a member of the research group led by Professor Huimin Zhao. The research team developed a rapid, Scalable, and Portable (SPOT) testing system for COVID-19 diagnosis. Guanhua is also developing a SPOT-based at-home testing system for rapid diagnosis of any viral respiratory infections in a single test.

Nucleic Acid-Based Testing 

Maha Alafeef, a PhD candidate in bioengineering, developed an inexpensive, yet highly accurate nucleic acid-based test for COVID-19 diagnosis with sample to assay time of less than 5 minutes requiring no RNA isolation or nucleic acid amplification. The technology was licensed to RNA Disease Diagnostics, Inc., an early-stage biotech company.

Our faculty are dedicated to helping students identify ways their bioengineering education can impact the real world. This includes orchestrating hands-on experiences like the department's capstone projects, where students and industry sponsors work together to solve real problems.

Off campus, our faculty members have played key roles in building companies that improve human health and tap into the vast potential of bioengineering, including Atom Bioworks Inc., PhotoniCare, and Sun Buckets.

Bioengineering on Shark Tank

Bioengineering professor Aadeel Akhtar presents his company and its signature product on Shark Tank.

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