Illinois hosts successful Frontiers in Bioengineering Symposium

Susan McKenna
10/21/2014 3:23:00 PM

The Frontiers in Bioengineering Symposium drew more than 200 participants and almost 30 leading figures in bioengineering from across the country — and one from Switzerland — who presented their forward-looking research in bioengineering during technical sessions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, September 7-9, 2014.

Steven Chu, professor of bio-physics at Stanford University, former U.S. Secretary of Energy, and co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics, delivered the keynote address on the development of new bioimaging technologies during the Monday night Speakers’ Dinner held at the Grainger Library on campus.

Campus leaders delivering welcome and introductory remarks during the event were Chancellor Phyllis Wise, Vice Chancellor for Research Peter Schiffer, College of Engineering Dean Andreas Cangellaris, and Bioengineering Department Head Rashid Bashir.

Shu Chien and Rashid Bashir in foreground.
Shu Chien and Rashid Bashir in foreground.
Shu Chien and Rashid Bashir in foreground.
Among the distinguished faculty researchers who presented in technical sessions were:

Shu Chien, (pictured here on the left in the foreground, with Department Head Rashid Bashir on the right) member of the National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine; 2011 National Medal of Science recipient; Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering and Director of the Institute of Engineering in Medicine at the University of California, San Diego; who spoke about the future of engineering and medicine, and the role that technology can play in the future of medicine;

Roderic Pettigrew, member of the National Academy of Engineering and Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institutes of Health, who discussed the state of the art in bioengineering technologies that NIH has funded and how these technologies can change the face of medicine in the future;

Gang Bao, Robert A. Milton Chair of Biomedical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, who discussed the development of gene-correction technologies to treat single-gene disorders;

Roger Kamm, member of the Institute of Medicine; Cecil and Ida Green Distinguished Professor of Biological and Mechanical Engineering, and Director of the NSF Science and Technology Center for Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; who talked about the challenges of creating and fine-tuning biological machines;

Cato Laurencin, member of the National Academy of Engineering; Director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering; Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science; Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Chair in Academic Medicine and Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and of Chemical, Materials and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Connecticut; who discussed research in the regeneration of musculoskeletal tissues through tissue engineering;

Kam Leong, member of the National Academy of Engineering; Professor of Biomedical Engineering and of Surgery at Duke University; and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University, New York; who talked about reprogramming cells to aid in regenerative medicine;

Michael Scheetz, Director and Principal Investigator at the Mechanobiology Institute in Singapore; Distinguished Professor in Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore; and Kenan Professor of Cell Biology and Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University, New York; who discussed research examining microenvironmental control of cell growth, death or differentiation;

Viola Vogel, Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Head of the Laboratory of Applied Mechanobiology at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH Zürich), who talked about the ways in which humans pick up bacteria and fight resulting infections and how common antibacterial drugs affect the ability to combat infections.

Representing Illinois as speakers in the technical sessions were: Rashid Bashir, Stephen Boppart, Taekjip Ha, Princess Imoukhuede, Sua Myong, John Rogers, Klaus Schulten, Brad Sutton, and Huimin Zhao. Michael Insana, Deborah Leckband, Gene Robinson and Stephen Sligar served as session chairs.

Rohit Bhargava facilitated the panel discussion on what it means to be a translational bioengineer. Panelists included: Raphael Lee, member of the National Academy of Engineering; Paul and Allen Russell Professor of Surgery, Professor of Medicine, and Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, University of Chicago; Robert Nerem, member of the National Academy of Engineering and of the Institute of Medicine; Professor Emeritus, George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology; Director, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University Center for Regenerative Medicine; Parker H. Petit Distinguished Chair for Engineering in Medicine, and Institute Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology; Thomas Royston, Department Head, Richard and Loan Hill Department of Bioengineering; Professor of Mechanical Engineering and of Bioengineering, University of Illinois at Chicago; Tom Skalak, Vice President for Research, University of Virginia; and John Vozenilek, Chief Medical Director, Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center, Peoria, Ill.

The symposium also featured the work of 29 young investigators from across the country — junior faculty who presented posters and were nominated to participate in the symposium by their department heads. Four of these researchers received Best Poster awards, and four earned Honorable Mentions.

The conference was a multidisciplinary effort organized at the University by Rashid Bashir, Head of the Department of Bioengineering; Taekjip Ha, Department of Physics; Michael Insana, Department of Bioengineering; Deborah Leckband, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Taher Saif, Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering; and Stephen Sligar, School of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

This very successful event concluded with the expectation that it would continue on a biennial basis and with the hope that other universities would host it in the future. UCSD, Columbia, and other institutions expressed interest in holding the meeting in two years.


Symposium website:

Speakers and their bio’s:

List of participating young investigators:

Poster winners:


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