Contact Information


Rashid Bashir
Abel Bliss Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Professor of Bioengineering

Martha L. Gillette
Alumni Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology

K. Jimmy Hsia
Professor of Mechanical Science and

Taher A. Saif
Gutgsell Professor of Mechanical Science and Engineering

Michael P. Sheetz
William R Kenan Jr. Professor of Biological Sciences, Columbia University and Director of the Mechanobiology Institute in Singapore


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


The CMMB IGERT is training the next generation of leaders who will define the new frontiers of cellular and molecular mechanics and bionanotechnology.

Integrating biology and medicine with micro and nanotechnology can be categorized into two broad areas, namely how micro/nano-fabrication can help solve problems in life sciences (such as diagnostics, therapeutics, and tissue engineering) and how we can learn more from life science to solve important problems in micro/nano-science and engineering (such as bio-inspired self-assembly).

Learn more about the CMMB IGERT Trainee Experience >>

What's New?

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 >>


Using BioNanotechnology to Solve Medical Problems

IEEE Life Sciences interviews Illinois IGERT PI, Rashid Bashir, winner of the 2012 EMB Technical Achievement Award! Full Story >>


Bashir to head Illinois' Department of Bioengineering

As of August 16, 2013, CMMB IGERT PI, Rashid Bashir, will be the next head of the University's Department of Bioengineering. An Abel Bliss Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Bioengineering at Illinois, Bashir leads two efforts to train the next generation of leaders in nanotechnology and bioengineering—the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) on Cellular and Molecular Mechanics and Bionanotechnology, and the Midwest Cancer Nanotechnology Training Center. These programs are funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, respectively. Join us in congratulating Dr. Bashir! Full Story >>


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.



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