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We are eager to share CMMB IGERT Trainee and Faculty accomplishments with the IGERT community. Please contact the Program Manager with your news and highlights:

Program Manager

Laura A. Miller
Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory
1256 MNTL, MC-249
208 North Wright Street
Urbana, Illinois, 61801 USA

Phone: (217) 244-7092
Fax: (217) 244-6375


News Archive

Illinois-Tsinghua Nanotechnology Symposium to be jointly held with the CNST 12th Annual Nanotechnology Workshop | Download Poster

The Illinois-Tsinghua connection began in Summer 2012 when members of the faculty and administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign visited Tsinghua University and the Tsinghua-Foxconn Nanotechnology Research Center in Beijing, China, directed by Dr. Shoushan Fan. Dr. Fan and his group developed carbon nanotube-based technology that is being used in liquid crystal displays, an example of their success in conducting translational research and establishing commercial partnerships. During the visit, discussions led to the idea of holding a joint nanotechnology event at Illinois to identify complementary strengths and explore possibilities for collaborations. The 2014 joint symposium is the result of those efforts by the University of Illinois and Tsinghua University.

Find out more and register >>


2013 GEM4 Summer Institute

July 29 - August 9, 2013

The 2013 Summer Institute was a success! Faculty, graduate students, and researchers representing 18 international and domestic universities participated in the 2013 Summer Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign July 29-August 9, 2013. During the two-week institute, attendees participated in lectures and hands-on training in engineering and physical science laboratory techniques by experts in the field. Topics covered included cancer nanotechnology, cell mechanics, molecular biology, micro fabrication, and NanoBio devices. Participants heard from faculty professionals from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and 7 other institutions including UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, UT Austin, Georgia Tech, and the University of Pennsylvania.


2013 Annual Symposium

May 2, 2013

The third annual CMMB IGERT Symposium was held in conjunction with the 11th Annual CNST Nanotechnology Workshop at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Trainees presented talks and posters to a to wide audience from industry and academia.


Vote for Heather Huntsman in the 2013 NSF Poster and Video Competition!

Our very own Heather Huntsman is representing our CMMB IGERT in the NSF IGERT Video and Poster Competition! Please take a moment to read about her work and vote for her poster at Winners will be invited to the NSF to participate in a series of panel discussions highlighting career options for IGERT graduates and the experiences and successes of IGERT alumni.


NSF grant will establish dedicated nanoBIO node to Network for Computational Nanotechnology

TAs part of its ongoing efforts to improve the U.S. infrastructure for research and education in nanotechnology, a team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, along with other university partners, has received a five-year $700,000/year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a dedicated nanoBIO node to the Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN), as part of a comprehensive plan with nation-wide reach to support nanoBIO research and education.

"The urgency to contain health care costs and improve services, the imperatives to provide safe and plentiful food supplies, and the need for efficient bio-fuel production as part of a sustainable energy strategy all point to biology as the pivotal science of the future, and nanotechnology as the enabler," explained Umberto Ravaioli, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and principal investigator for the project. "Our goal is to build a bridge between engineering and biology; to create tools that introduce computation and visualization to make various biological processes interesting for engineering students. Read more >>


$100-Million Pledge to College of Engineering at Illinois

The Grainger Foundation, Lake Forest, Illinois, has pledged $100 million to support the College of Engineering through establishment of the Grainger Engineering Breakthroughs Initiative. The contribution is made in memory and honor of William W. Grainger, a 1919 Illinois graduate in Electrical Engineering, and the founder of W.W. Grainger, Inc. Read more >>


Bashir Among Researchers Leading Nanopore Effort

When Oxford Nanopore Technology (ONT) announced agreements with four American and three British universities to license DNA sensing technology and to fund future research, the University of Illinois was one of the four thanks to Beckman Institute researchers Jean-Pierre Leburton, Aleksei Aksimentiev, and Rashid Bashir, as well as their collaborators and campus support facilities. Read more >>


Soft fibrin gels promote selection and growth of tumorigenic cells is in pre-print

Authors: Jing Liu, Youhua Tan, Huafeng Zhang, Yi Zhang, Pingwei Xu, Junwei Chen, Yeh-Chuin Poh, Ke Tang, Ning Wang, and Bo Huang

Abstract: The identification of stem-cell-like cancer cells through conventional methods that depend on stem cell markers is often unreliable.We developed a mechanical method for selecting tumorigenic cells by culturing single cancer cells in fibrin matrices of 100 Pa in stiffness. When cultured within these gels, primary human cancer cells or single cancer cells from mouse or human cancer cell lines grew within a few days into individual round colonies that resembled embryonic stem cell colonies. Subcutaneous or intravenous injection of 10 or 100 fibrin-cultured cells in syngeneic or severe combined immunodeficiency mice led to the formation of solid tumours at the site of injection or at the distant lung organ much more efficiently than control cancer cells selected using conventional surface marker methods or cultured on conventional rigid dishes or on soft gels. Remarkably, as few as ten such cells were able to survive and form tumours in the lungs of wild-type non-syngeneic mice.

Article on Nature Web site >>


Michael Sheetz Shares the Prestigious Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for 2012

Prof. Michael Sheetz, Prof. at Columbia University and Co-PI of the IGERT CMMB at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was named co-winner of this year's Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for discoveries related to cytoskeletal motor proteins, agents that move cargo within cells, contract muscles, and enable cell movements. Please join us in congratulating Dr. Sheetz on earning this prestigious award! Full story >>


Newly demonstrated capabilities of low-powered nanotweezers may benefit cellular-level studies

Using ultra-low input power densities, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, have demonstrated for the first time how low-power "optical nanotweezers" can be used to trap, manipulate, and probe nanoparticles, including fragile biological samples! Full story >>



The face of nanotechnology at Illinois, CNST promotes interdisciplinary collaboration

Illinois' Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) works to provide training and to foster collaboration in nanotechnology at the intersection of engineering and biology.

Why should engineers need to learn about biology?

According to Irfan Ahmad, executive director of CNST, the national academies have identified the 21st century as the century of biology.

"So that means that we are mimicking biology; we are trying to come up with techniques, tools, processes which we learn from biology." However, Ahmad acknowledges that "Some of us who were trained as engineers did not have good grounding in the biological or life science aspects." So this is a void CNST is trying to fill. Read more >>


Congratulations to Rashid Bashir, a 2012 EMBS Award Recipient

Rashid Bashir, CMMB IGERT PI, was awarded the 2012 IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology (EMBS) Technical Achievement Award for Significant Contributions to the Development of Micro and Nanoscale Biosensors. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Bashir on his accomplishment!


Training the Next Generation Workforce: Biosensing-Bioactuation-Bionanotechnology Summer Institute 2012 (B3SI)

Nicknamed B3SI by the planners, the two-week-long BioSensing BioActuation BioNanotechnology Summer Institute 2012, held at the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory (MNTL) from July 30–August 10, 2012, was intended to train participants at the intersection of biology and engineering and to foster networking with other researchers. The three main sponsoring projects were the CMMB IGERT (Cellular and Molecular Mechanics and BioNanotechnology Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship), the M-CNTC (Midwest Cancer Nanotechnology Training Center), and the BioSensing, BioActuation grant. Full story >>


Select BioNanotechnology Semiar Series presentations have been archived and are available for viewing!

NanoHUB staff have recorded select seminars and made them available at Visit the BioNanotechnology Semiar Series page and click on "View Presentation". You will be redirected to the seminar hosted on the Web site.


Nanoscience and Technology on WILL Radio AM 580

Irfan S. Ahmad, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, and Yi Lu, Ph.D., Jay and Ann Schenck Professor of Chemistry, were guests on WILL Radio's Focus with host David Inge on Wednesday, June 20, 2012. Listen to the Podcast >>


Jonathan Yen Accepting AwardCongratulations to Jonathan Yen for winning a Judges' Choice award in the 2012 NSF IGERT Video and Poster Competition!

Jonathan's project, entitled "Human Embryonic Stem Cells: Towards Fate Control Through Gene Delivery and Microenvironment," focuses on developing new polymers for highly efficient gene delivery into hard to transfect hESCs, and developing hydrogel platforms to maintain and differentiate these cells for regenerative medicine applications.

Yen's video and poster can be found at

The 2012 Video and Poster Competition took place on May 22-25, 2012. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation and facilitated by, a project was run by TERC, a non-profit located in Cambridge Massachusetts. Full story >>


Giving life to the problem - students spend semester break in Ghana

A team of 20 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign graduate students and faculty got quite a bit of sun this past semester break – but in quite the unconventional way. As part of a trip organized through the Global Health Initiative (GHI) at the University of Illinois, the group took a two week trip to Ghana in January to tour and observe the country's health care system. One of these graduate students was NSF IGERT-CMMB Trainee, Erich Lidstone. Erich gave a seminar presentation about his experience in Ghana. Read more >>


Advanced Materials Team designs a bandage that spurs, guides blood vessel growth

Researchers have developed a bandage that stimulates and directs blood vessel growth on the surface of a wound. The bandage, called a "microvascular stamp," contains living cells that deliver growth factors to damaged tissues in a defined pattern. After a week, the pattern of the stamp "is written in blood vessels," the researchers report. A paper describing the new approach, appeared in the January 3, 2012 issue of the journal Advanced Materials. Read more >>


Bashir and Hsia named AAAS Fellows

Rashid BashirK Jimmy HsiaTwo M-CNTC faculty members were among eight University of Illinois faculty members elected as Fellows in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

“These faculty members embody the spirit of excellence that characterizes Illinois scholarship,” said Phyllis M. Wise, the chancellor of the Urbana campus and a vice president of the university. “Such commitment to quality inspires their colleagues and students, and advances Illinois as a leader in academics, research and innovation.” Read more >>


Brendan HarleyAmerican Cancer Society Honors Illinois Professor

American Cancer Society funded researcher Dr. Brendan Harley, University of Illinois Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Institute for Genomic Biology, was recently awarded the organization's prestigious President's Award for Research to honor his dedication to both research and public outreach. Read more >>


Solid state nanopore technology points to the future of DNA sequencing

Imagine the day when your doctor offers you a test that allows you to look into the future and determine what diseases you may get, enabling early diagnosis and treatment. Sound unbelievable? Researchers in the College of Engineering at Illinois are taking a step in this direction. Read more >>

Bashir and Hsia Elected Fellows of AAAS

Two CMMB IGERT faculty have been named Fellows in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Read more >>

Insana and Cunningham chosen as IEEE Fellows

Two CMMB IGERT faculty have been named Fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Professor Brian Cunningham was recognized by IEEE for contributions to photonics crystal-based biosensors and detection instrumentation. Professor Michael Insana is being recognized for contributions to ultrasound imaging methods, particularly elastography. Read more >>

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is hiring!

Full-time Academia positions are available. Visit the Academic Job Board for details.


Jenny AmosAmos's Atomic Microscope Gives Students Close-Up Look at Cells

A few adventurous young bioengineers are taking cell research to a whole new level—the atomic level. University of Illinois bioengineering students now have access to a new tool for looking at cells called an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). In March, the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust provided the $290,000 machine, in the form of a grant, to the university and to bioengineering lecturer Jennifer Amos. Amos will lead a new class this fall called "The Bioreactor Lab" that will focus on teaching students about the use Atomic Force Microscopy in bioengineering. Read more >>


Logan LiuLiu earns Presidential Early Career Award

Gang Logan Liu, an assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is among the 94 researchers to receive the 2011 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor the U.S. government confers upon young investigators establishing their independent research careers. Read more >>



Morning Show Features Nanotechnology

Rashid Bashir and Brian Wong were featured on Champaign-Urbana's WCIA Morning Show explaining nanotechnology to our community!  They did an outstanding job and you can watch the archived video on the WCIA web site:


Taejip HaHa Wins 2011 Ho-Am Prize in Science

Congratulations to Taekjip Ha on winning the prestigious Ho-Am Prize in Science! The Ho-Am Prizes are widely regarded as the Korean equivalent of the Nobel Prizes. Ha was recognized for his pioneering application of fluorescence resonance energy transfer techniques to reveal the behavior and physical characteristics of single biomolecules. Read more >>


Applications are now being accepted for the 2012 Summer Institute

Participate in two weeks of lectures and hands-on laboratory modules covering nanotechnology, mechanobiology, cancer, biosensing, and dynamic control of engineered systems. Applications are due Friday, March 30, 2012.

Who should Apply? The Summer Institute is open to senior undergraduates, graduate students, post docs, and faculty members from engineering, physical sciences, and biological sciences who are interested in state-of-the-art interdisciplinary research at the intersection of engineering and biology.

Societal Implications of Nanotechnology in Addressing Grand Global Challenges by Dr. Irfan S. Ahmad

Friday, February 3, 2012
12:00-1:00 p.m.
204 Agricultural Engineering Sciences Building


Save the Date: Cancer Forum and Poster Prize Competition March 6, 2012

The University of Illinois Cancer Center invites all faculty, fellows, students and investigators on all U of I campuses to present posters on cancer-related research. More details will be announced later.


NanoScience and Emerging Technology in Cancer Research Conference

Dates: December 10-11, 2011
Location: UCSD Moore’s Cancer Center; La Jolla, CA

This symposium will focus on new technology from the engineering and physical sciences being developed for cancer research and treatment.  Topics will include (a) targeted and untargeted nanoparticles for drug delivery and enhanced radiation therapy; (b) imaging and targeting agents and technology; (c) externally or environmentally triggered and guided nanoparticles for local delivery of therapeutics; (d) nanoscience based novel radiology, pathology, and surgical tools.  There will be a panel discussion of technology which can be rapidly translated into clinical trials and science which has the greatest long range potential clinical impact.  The conference is organized by the national network of the NIC NCI CNTE (Cancer Nanotechnology Training Center).

Taejip Ha"Analyst" Features Lidstone Article

Congratulations to Erich Lidstone on having his article, based on this NSF IGERT-sponsored research, featured on the front cover of the journal "Analyist". Read the article >>

Alumni Association recognizes Senior 100

Congratulations also to Caroline Cvetkovic for being named to the 2011 Senior Honorary 100 Recipient List! Caroline had been admitted to the PhD program in Bioengineering and will join us as a new CMMB IGERT trainee in Fall 2011.


New Book: Mechanobiology of Cell-Cell and Cell-Matrix Interactions | Buy the BookImage of Book

Amy Wagoner Johnson (MechSE) and Brendan Harley (ChemE) are co-editors of a new book that focuses on characterization and modeling of interactions between cells and their local extracellular environment. Read more >>


Real-time Look at Dynamics of Live Cells

Illinois researchers have developed a new optical microscopy method that can peer into the nanoscale world of live cells in ways unmatched by current techniques. Read more >>

Congratulations to Drew Glaser and Xin Tang!

Ross Xin DrewXin won one of the Best Poster awards and Drew earned an honorable mention in the 2011 CNST Annual Workshop Poster Competition!

Drew is a trainee at UC Merced, a CMMB IGERT partner institution, and was able to join us via Skype for the poster session and awards presentation!

Thank you to all faculty and trainees for your participation in this event.  This was a great representation of CMMB IGERT trainee and faculty contributions to BioNanotechnology!


Congratulations to Erich Lidstone on his success in the NSF IGERT Poster Competition!

Erich LidstoneErich was chosen as one of the 24 finalists who will present their research in the atrium of the National Science Foundation on May 25th! Visit or the Poser Competition Web site to see Erich's poster.

Good luck in the finals, Erich!


The BioNanotechnology Summer Institute 2011 will be held on the Unversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus July 25-August 5, 2011.

Participants will participants hear from an exciting lineup of UIUC and external speaker and receive hands-on laboratory training in the basics of biological and engineering/physical science experimental methods. Applications will be accepted soon.


A total of 11 University of Illinois and UC Merced Trainees have been appointed and are currently conducting research at the intersection of biology and engineering!

More information on each of these trainees and their projects can be found by clicking the Trainees tab above.