Annual Symposium Focuses on Engineering in Medicine and LifeChip Technologies

Academic experts and industry leaders gathered to highlight technological advancements and discuss emerging issues facing the state and nation’s biomedical community

The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, in collaboration with the School of Medicine and the Integrated Nanosystems Research Facility, hosted its fifth annual “California: Prosperity Through Technology” industry research symposium May 15 -17, 2006.  More than 400 people attended this dynamic event, developed to create an interactive forum in which academic visionaries and industry leaders addressed and discussed the convergence of engineering and medicine, focusing on emerging trends and issues facing the state and nation’s biomedical community.

The three-day symposium was held at the Arnold and MabelBeckmanCenter of the National Academies, in Irvine, Calif., and was supported by 19 sponsors from leading companies across the biomedical and information technology industries.

UC Irvine Chancellor, Michael V. Drake, M.D., welcomed attendees on May 15, introducing the key goals of the symposium and addressing the importance of engineering in medicine.  Session Chair Bruce Tromberg, Ph.D., director of the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic, kicked off the event by initiating the morning’s session topic, engineering science in ophthalmology and vision technologies, which included presentations focused on Dr. Drake’s own area of expertise – ophthalmology.  

Symposium session themes also included engineering in neuroscience and rehabilitation, nano/micro technologies for cancer, bio-MEMS for medical implantable devices, and array technologies for genomic, proteomic and cellular screening/diagnostics.

In addition to UC Irvine faculty, the symposium featured industry experts, as well as prominent scientists and researchers from around the world, who all highlighted their advancements and shared their specific technologies relating to the biomedical field.

Guest speakers included:

  • Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • David Barker, Ph.D., Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, Illumina, Inc.
  • Georges Belfort, Ph.D., Professor, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Andrew Berlin, Ph.D., General Manager, The Fred Hutchinson Research Cancer, Intel
  • Robert F. Bonner, Ph.D., Chief, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
  • Dr. Gregory Downing, Director, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health
  • Dr. Robert J. Greenberg, President and CEO, Second Sight Medical Products, Inc.
  • Dr. David Huang, Professor, Keck School of Medicine, USC
  • Makoto Ishida, Ph.D., Professor, ToyohashiUniversity of Technology
  • Tae Kook Kim, Ph.D., Professor, Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology
  • E. K. Lee, Ph.D., Professor, HanyangUniversity
  • SangHoon Lee, Ph.D., Professor, KoreaUniversity
  • Dr. Gerald E. Loeb, Professor, Viterbi School of Engineering, USC
  • Anita Mahadevan-Jansen, Ph.D., Professor, VanderbiltUniversity
  • Michael J. Natan, Ph.D., President, Oxonica, Inc. (formerly Nanoplex Technologies)
  • Shuming Nie, Ph.D., Professor, EmoryUniversity and Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Elizabeth J. Orwin, Ph.D., Professor, HarveyMuddCollege
  • James C. Osborne, Jr., Ph.D., Vice President, Beckman-Coulter Inc.
  • Niroshan Ramachandran, Ph.D., Research Associate, HarvardMedicalSchool
  • Kazuaki Sawada, Ph.D., Professor, ToyohashiUniversity of Technology
  • Francis "Sandy" Spelman, Ph.D., Professor, University of Washington
  • Saburo Tanaka, Ph.D., Professor, ToyohashiUniversity of Technology
  • Mehmet Toner, Ph.D., Professor, HarvardMedicalSchool
  • Bill Van Antwerp, Vice President, Medtronic MiniMed Inc.

“It was inspiring to be in the presence of so many talented minds, and to give our attendees the opportunity to participate in discussions and collaborate with nationally and internationally respected peers and colleagues,” said Nicolaos G. Alexopoulos, dean of The Henry Samueli School of Engineering.

Following Monday’s symposium events, the School also held its annual dinner and awards banquet at the EngineeringPlaza on campus, in honor of selected outstanding faculty members and students. 

Two guests of honor were also recognized and presented awards; William J. Link, a managing director of Versant Ventures, accepted the prestigious Engineering the Future Award, and Georges Belfort, Ph.D., the Russell Sage Endowed Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was presented with the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year award.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the INRF featured speakers who focused on the importance and advancement of LifeChips technology.  These session themes were motivated by a new program at UC Irvine dedicated to promoting the union of technology arts and life sciences through research and education at the micro and nano scales. 

Director of the INRF and the new LifeChips Program, Professor G.P. Li explains, “LifeChips refers to both our program at UC Irvine, as well as a type of research and teaching paradigm - one that embraces the overlap between life science and technology that naturally occurs at microscopic scales.”

Attendees had the unique opportunity to hear about different interdisciplinary research projects taking place around the world, and also participate in a networking dinner, view student research poster projects, and tour both the INRF, as well as the Beckman Laser Institute on campus.


“I was pleased to collaborate with the INRF and the new LifeChips Program, and create an academic and professional platform in which the invited speakers had a chance to share their knowledge and current projects taking place at their home institutions and companies, as well as have the opportunity to showcase innovative research happening here on our campus,” added Alexopoulos.


Mehmet Toner, Professor of Surgery and Biomedical Engineering, Harvard Medical School


Andrew Berlin, General Manager of Biomedical and Life Sciences, The Fred Hutchinson Research Cancer, Intel



Elizabeth J. Orwin, Professor of Engineering and Biology, Harvey Mudd College



Steven C. Cramer, Associate Professor of Neurology, Anatomy and Neurobiology, UC Irvine