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Message from the Chair

Where science and engineering meet, innovation is born

The bioengineering discipline integrates skills across the physical and life sciences, mathematical and computational sciences, and medicine. While biology and biological processes are fundamental to our research, it is through the integration of engineering and technological tools that we expand basic science and positively impact human health by ways of targeted genome and epigenome editing, synthetic biology, disease diagnostics, improved drug design and biotherapeutics, biomaterials, and tissue engineering.

This summer we will welcome Caleb Bashor and Isaac Hilton as assistant professors of bioengineering. Their recruitment is strategic to our continued growth in research and education.

Hilton’s Rice lab, which is supported by a $2 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), will focus on the basic mechanisms that control how genes are normally and aberrantly expressed in healthy and diseased human cells. His ultimate goal is to synthetically engineer genetic and epigenetic mechanisms to therapeutically address and treat cancer. Hilton comes to Rice from Duke University. He has a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the University of Missouri and a Ph.D. in genetics and molecular biology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

In mammalian synthetic biology, researchers build artificial signaling networks to elucidate cellular design principles and reprogram cells to function as novel therapeutics. Bashor, a postdoctoral research fellow from MIT’s Institute for Medical and Engineering Science, will focus his efforts to engineer multi-input sense and response signaling circuitry to improve mammalian synthetic biology and technologies to make biology easier to engineer. He has a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Reed College and a Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of California, San Francisco.

Because bioengineering is strongly interdisciplinary, faculty members, students and postdoctoral researchers at Rice benefit from the cohesive atmosphere and enhanced synergies that the university’s centers and institutes provide. Department of Bioengineering faculty members direct or co-direct each of the following programs.

  • The Rice 360° Institute for Global Health and the Department of Bioengineering offer innovative undergraduate and graduate programs in the design and implementation of technologies that solve real global health challenges.
  • The newly established Center for Engineering Complex Tissues (CECT) is helping move tissue engineering from the lab to the clinic by both developing new technologies and serving as a collaborative hub for the fast-growing community of surgeons, biomaterials experts and engineers focused on regenerative medicine.

In addition to these efforts, annual events hosted by our faculty, such as the Advances in Tissue Engineering short course, the Innovation Symposium, the Precision Genome Editing Workshop, and the Bioengineering Design Showcase of Innovative Medical Technologies, continue to expand our academic-to-industry relations.

Deem_ChairMichael W. Deem
Chair and Professor, Department of Bioengineering
John W. Cox Professor of Biochemical & Genetic Engineering; Founding Director, Graduate Program in Systems,
Synthetic, and Physical Biology (2012-2014)