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Do The Impossible

Key People

Walking Bio-bots

Biobots

Rashid Bashir
Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering
Head of the Department of Bioengineering

Our vision is to create a new scientific discipline for building living, multi-cellular machines that solve real world problems in health, security, and the environment. This mission will be achieved through integrated research and education efforts, human resource development, diversity and outreach programs, and knowledge transfer activities. The EBICS Strategic Plan details our approach for addressing the ambitious and transformative goals of the Center.

EBICS has taken two fundamental approaches to developing biological machines. Using a classic engineering approach, we define the specifications for cellular machines with the desired capabilities, and develop the necessary parts (cells and cell clusters) and machine assembly pathways to construct such a machine. In parallel, we are using a systems biology approach to understand the emergent properties of cells and cell clusters to harness those properties to evolve interacting cell clusters that function within a biological machine with specific capabilities.

Our education mission is to integrate cutting-edge, multidisciplinary research accomplishments into a range of educational endeavors – from journal clubs and workshops to formal courses and curricula – to advance innovative training, diversity of the workforce, and public education for all.

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Swimming Bio-bots

Biobots

Taher Saif
Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Professor
Department of Mechanical Science & Engineering
Director, Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory

We have shown that cardiomyocytes plated on a flexible string can communicate with each other, self organize, and emerge into a cell cluster that beats synchronously. This results in a swimming artificial flagellum. Its dynamics of well predicted by our theoretical model based on slender body hydrodynamics. This is the first demonstration of a small-scale swimmer that propels autonomously in a viscous environment.

Currently, we are addressing the following questions: (1) What is the underlying mechanism of synchrony between cardiomyocytes that are separated from one another? (2) Is swimming possible by muscle cells that can be actuated by light so that we can achieve controlled actuation? (3) Can we develop swimmers using neurons and muscle cells so that the swimmers may have intelligence and memory? Such swimmers may be used for targeted drug delivery in vivo.

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Walking Bio-bots

Biobots

Caroline Cvetkovic
PhD Candidate
Department of Bioengineering

My graduate work is focused on developing macroscopic biological machines composed of 3D printed materials and living cells.

Cell-based soft robotic devices could have a transformative impact on our ability to design machines and systems that can dynamically sense and respond to a range of complex environmental signals.

Our research integrates innovative advancements in biomaterials, tissue engineering, and 3D printing to engineer controllable centimeter-scale biological machines with applications in soft robotics and drug screening.

Walking Bio-bots

Biobots

Ritu Raman
PhD Candidate
Department of Mechanical Science & Engineering

I am interested in developing enabling 3D printing technologies for applications in biomedical engineering, with a specific focus on forward engineering modular multi-cellular building blocks for biological machines.

In the future, I aim to build more complex “living machines” that can self-assemble, self-heal, and adapt to their surroundings to address societal problems ranging from medicine to the environment.

I am committed to introducing the biological tool kit into every inventor’s toolbox, and growing a global community of makers that build with biology.

Swimming Bio-bots

Biobots

Brian Williams
PhD Candidate
Department of Mechanical Science & Engineering

I focus on designing and building microscopic swimming biohybrid robotics and developing the tools to model the relevant fluid dynamics. My future work is focused on integrating multiple cell types on the swimming biobot that, under appropriate conditions, function as a system to produce a predictable physical output.Potential functionalities include directional navigation based on local chemical gradients and environmental data acquisition.