Bashir named a Fellow of IEEE and AIMBE

ECE News

Tom Moone, ECE Illinois

Story Highlights

  • Professor Rashid Bashir was named a Fellow of IEEE and of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.
  • Bashir applies research in microelectronics, semiconductors, and nanotechnology to biomedicine.
  • Bashir is developing biochips that could detect cells or biological molecules.

Rashid  Bashir
Rashid Bashir

ECE Professor Rashid Bashir recently honored by two major organizations, being named a Fellow of IEEE and of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).

IEEE singled out Bashir for “contributions to development of micro-systems and nanotechnology for medical applications.” Though he has not seen the citation for the AIMBE recognition, “it will be something similar,” said Bashir, whose work focuses on applying micro and nanotechnology to biomedical problems.

“What we do in our group is really take the expertise and knowledge in the area of microelectronics and semiconductors and nanotechnology and apply that to solving important problems in biology and medicine,” said Bashir. In particular, Bashir is focusing on projects that lead to diagnostic or therapeutic applications.

In working toward these applications, Bashir and his colleagues have developed what he calls “integrated biochips.” This term means that these chips perform more than one function. For example, an amount of fluid, as small as a drop, is moved through the chip, which captures and traps any biological entities (such as bacteria). Growth of these biological entities is then detected electronically.

The biochips that Bashir and his colleagues are developing have both electrical and mechanical detection methodologies to detect cells or biological molecules. “And the eventual goal for these devices is that we would like to be able to develop one-time use point-of-care sensors for monitoring of disease from body fluids, or for monitoring of the environment or testing the contamination levels and quality of water and food,” said Bashir.

The envisioned setup would be composed of a reader and a one-time use cartridge that would be placed in the reader. The goal of having disposable sensors is very attractive for many reasons “If you did detect some biological entity that is harmful in some way, than it would cost more to clean up that chip and sterilize it,” said Bashir.

Bashir envisions a time when people could go to their local pharmacy to buy kits for detection of bacteria or the like. “Today, what we can detect about ourselves is actually very limited,” he said. “You have to go into the hospital for almost anything. There is a limited set of tests you can buy for yourself over the counter.”

Bashir looks forward to the time when people could perform medical tests in their home either to avoid an extra trip to the doctor’s office or to make them better informed when they do visit their physician. “You could do a complete blood count at home and then ship the results to the doctor,” said Bashir.

Using this technology, Bashir has founded one startup company called BioVitesse, Inc. in California. The company is developing products for detection of live bacteria to test for water quality.  He is also on the technical advisory board for Dektari, Inc. which licensed a technology he co-developed with collaborators at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dektari is developing biosensors to evaluate white blood cell counts.

Bashir would like to extend these tests to make them available to individuals and allow them to take more control of their own health. “That is the idea,” he said. “Can we actually miniaturize a lot of the biological and chemical detection operations that are done in hospital labs or other labs? Can we miniaturize them and bring them to the individual?” If Bashir’s research efforts of the last several years are any indication, the answer will soon be “Yes.”

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