Our research includes cutting-edge work that is highly interdisciplinary, involving collaborations with faculty and students in departments across Rice University, within the Texas Medical Center & with laboratories across the U.S.
Biomaterials, Biofabrication & Mechanobiology
Rice bioengineers are pioneering the development of next-generation biomaterials for human health applications. Our faculty are innovating novel biofabrication tools such as 3D printing, nanotechnology, and molecular scaled self-assembly to engineer new or improved biomaterials with tailored mechanical, chemical, and biological properties. We use these materials for a variety of applications, including imaging contrast agents, tissue engineering scaffolds, drug and cellular delivery, controlling the body’s immune response, and artificial viruses for gene therapy. The department’s efforts over the past three decades have led to the advancement of both novel products and also fundamental insights into the interplay of biological responses to engineered materials.
Biomedical Imaging & Instrumentation
Faculty in the Rice University Department of Bioengineering develop tools and contrast agents for optical, ultrasound, and MRI. Imaging efforts include the development of compact, high-performance optical spectroscopy and imaging tools for point-of-care early detection of cancer and development of innovative hyperspectral and miniaturized optical systems and 3D printed optics for broad-based applications in biological and clinical research. In addition, our researchers develop nanoscale contrast agents for optical and MRI applications and genetically encoded molecular constructs for spatially targeted gene therapy using focused ultrasound imaging.
Cellular, Molecular and Genome Engineering & Synthetic Biology
In this foundational research focus area, principal investigators in our department are developing new technologies to design nucleic acids, proteins, macromolecular complexes, gene-regulatory networks, and metabolic pathways. These approaches allow our researchers to study natural biological processes and engineer diagnostic and therapeutic cells, convert low-value feedstocks into high-value metabolites and develop new drugs to fight microbial infection, cancer, and other diseases.
Computational and Theoretical Bioengineering & Biophysics
Predictive understanding of biological systems requires complementing experimental approaches with computational models and theories. Researchers in the Rice University Department of Bioengineering use approaches from molecular biophysics, biomechanics, transport and kinetics, statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, nonlinear dynamics and control theory, and data science to identify general principles underlying the emergence of system-level properties across multiple length and time scales. The resulting models describe a wide range of fundamental and medically relevant systems including molecular motors, membranes, genetic and cellular networks, bacterial biofilms and complex human physiological systems.