Department leadership change announced

8/15/2017 Laura Schmitt

Smooth transition expected as Bashir joins Carle Illinois College of Medicine and Insana becomes interim department head

Written by Laura Schmitt

Rashid Bashir, Grainger Distinguished Chair in Engineering and head of the Bioengineering Department, has been named the executive associate dean and chief diversity officer of the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine (CI-COM). In his new role, which he formally begins on August 16, Bashir will work closely with Dean King Li and the administrative leadership team to execute on the overall mission and vision of the college and the implementation of the college strategic plan.

Bashir will also continue to provide the strategic link to the College of Engineering and the integration of engineering, design, and innovation in the new medical school.

“As executive associate dean and chief diversity officer, Rashid will be a linchpin for infusing engineering into medical education and cultivating a diverse class of future physician-innovators,” said Li. “We’re fortunate to benefit from his continued leadership.”

Bioengineering Professor Michael Insana replaces Bashir as interim department head.
Bioengineering Professor Michael Insana replaces Bashir as interim department head.

“It has been a great honor to serve as Bioengineering Department head at this opportune time of growth and expansion,” said Bashir. “And I very much look forward to my new role as we launch the College of Medicine and pave the way to a new paradigm in medical education.”

Bioengineering Professor Michael Insana, a Donald Biggar Willett Professor of Engineering, is taking over as department head on an interim basis. “We in the Department of Bioengineering are very proud of the important new role that Rashid is playing in the CI-COM development,” said Insana. “Rashid will enable cooperative growth in both colleges, which is important for our future.”

The leadership transition promises to be smooth since Insana served as head from 2008 – 2013. “This is exactly the sort of leadership transition we work hard to achieve at Illinois,” said Andreas Cangellaris, dean of the College of Engineering. “Rashid has helped lead the university’s effort to build the world’s first engineering-based college of medicine, and Mike has previously led bioengineering through a period of growth and growing prominence.”

During his four-year tenure as Bioengineering head, Bashir oversaw a period of tremendous growth. For example, the number of faculty increased from 13 to 21 and the department’s undergraduate enrollment increased by more than a third. Bashir championed a new  one-year Master of Engineering in Bioengineering degree program geared for professionals who want to advance their industry careers, and he oversaw the renovation project for Everitt Lab, which will become the department’s new home in 2018.

Working with faculty colleagues and campus administration, Bashir helped launch strategic education and research partnerships with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Mayo Clinic, and the OSF Healthcare System in Peoria, IL. He was part of the faculty teams that won $2 million in NSF funding to revolutionize the department’s undergraduate curriculum and received nearly $500,000 from the Carver Charitable Trust to establish an innovative Microscale Biofabrication Lab and related courses. He continues to serve as the Co-PI and the Illinois campus lead for the NSF Center for Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems, in collaboration with MIT, Georgia Tech, and other university partners.

Bashir, who will remain a Bioengineering faculty member, is well known for his research on applying microfluidics and nanotechnology to the biomedical engineering field. His group has conducted pioneering work on a new class of miniature biological robots and point-of-care microfluidic biosensors. He has more than 200 journal publications, has been granted 44 patents, and has licensed technology to three startups and other companies.

“This is an exciting time in the evolution of 21st century medicine and the future of our Bioengineering Department, especially as we prepare to move into Everitt Lab,” said Insana. “We want to take this opportunity to invite all of our students and alumni to join us in the fall of 2018 to celebrate the birth of a new college and the new home for our department.”

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This story was published August 15, 2017.