New BioMaker Lab at MRL First of its Kind in Biofabrication Research and Innovation

6/29/2018 Caitlin McCoy

Enabled by a generous gift from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, the BioMaker Lab at the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Lab (MRL) will be the first state-of-the-art interdisciplinary biofabrication hub in the world. This new facility will enable non-specialists and specialists alike from a wide range of disciplines to rapidly transform new ideas into prototypes and characterize these prototypes with state-of-the-art tools, empowering the Illinois community to leverage out-of-the-box thinking and challenge the status quo. 

“The BioMaker Lab at the MRL will greatly enhance the capability for research groups across campus to carry out research on advanced biological materials and access the tremendous suite of characterization capabilities available within the MRL for this research,” MRL Director and the Ivan Racheff Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Paul Braun said. “This will truly drive the next generation of innovators and biomedical technologies.” 

Along with being a core facility within the MRL, the BioMaker Lab will serve as a node of the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine Medical Maker Lab. This encompasses the spirit of their initiative, with a theme of “Dream it, make it.” 

“The new BioMaker Lab at MRL will be equipped for state-of-the-art fabrication and characterization at the cellular, tissue, and organ scale that will integrate research and educational programs for solving complex medical problems while providing students with the best educational opportunities in the country,” Irfan Ahmad, Director of Interdisciplinary Initiatives with Illinois Engineering and Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering said. “Recent advances in biofabrication are now yielding devices for high-throughput cell culture, organs-on-a-chip for drug screening, and 3D printing technologies for creating tissues and organs… as these revolutionary advances come of age, it is imperative to incorporate these technologies into our research facilities now.” 

Martin Burke, Interim Associate Dean of Research at Carle Illinois College of Medicine and Professor of Chemistry noted, “This new BioMaker Lab will ensure that countless future innovators, both from inside and outside the field of bioengineering, will be limited only by their own imaginations.”

Roy J. Carver was an industrialist and philanthropist; he had a passion for quality in all that he undertook and was committed to research that advanced science. This new gift was preceded by a gift, also from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, to the Bioengineering Department for the first of its kind biofabrication undergraduate teaching laboratory. “With this new gift to build a BioMaker research and innovation facility, we are able to advance Mr. Carver’s vision and enable researchers and innovators to do what they do best: innovate,” Rashid Bashir, Executive Associate Dean at Carle Illinois College of Medicine and Grainger Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering said. 

The BioMaker Lab at MRL is expected to be open for researchers in early 2019.

To reach Paul Braun, you can email pbraun@illinois.edu

To reach Irfan Ahmad, you can email isahmad@illinois.edu.

Tiny walking biobots are powered by muscle cells and controlled by an electric field.
Tiny walking biobots are powered by muscle cells and controlled by an electric field.

About the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Lab (MRL)

The Materials Research Lab (MRL) fosters interdisciplinary research at the forefront of materials science by bringing together world-class faculty, staff, postdocs, students, and industry in materials science, condensed matter physics, and materials chemistry in a highly-collaborative, progressive research environment.

About the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust 

The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust awards grants to I.R.S.-designated, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations and supports biomedical and scientific research, scholarships, and programs addressing the educational and recreational needs of youth.  

About the Carle Illinois College of Medicine 

As the world’s first engineering-based college of medicine, Carle Illinois is leveraging advanced technology to train physician-innovators who will deliver better, more compassionate and accessible care to patients worldwide. Engaging creative minds in a case-driven, problem-based, active learning curriculum with day-one clinical immersion is just one way the College is setting a new bar for medical education.