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Open House Provides Inside Look into Campus’s Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Machines

November 5, 2018
Tal Danino presents at the UC Merced Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Machines open house
Tal Danino presents at the UC Merced Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Machines open house

Cutting-edge biomedical engineering research and science communication through artistic collaboration were among the highlights at UC Merced’s Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Machines (CCBM) open house last week.

Tal Danino, a TED Fellow and Columbia University assistant professor of biomedical engineering, delivered the keynote lecture titled "Synthetic Biology: From Programming Bacteria Behaviors to Cancer Therapies" for 100 attendees, including UC Merced students, faculty, staff and students from Patterson High School.

The focus of the talk was the progress of Danino’s lab toward a new design framework for engineering bacteria that bridges mathematical modeling, in vitro characterization, and in vivo diagnostics and therapeutics for cancer. Following the keynote, Danino led a workshop on "Programmable Bacteria: A New Medium for Science and Art.”

The open house included presentations on the center’s efforts in research, education, outreach and evaluation; CCBM-affiliated lab tours; and a poster session with an awards ceremony and reception. The poster session highlighted graduate student research efforts, as well as undergraduate students who are active in CCBM-led research programs including CREST Scholars and the CCBM Summer Internship Program (C-SIP). Participants from the center’s high school research program, Science and Technology Enrichment Program (STEP), took part in the poster session as well.

CCBM undergraduate students presented original research during a poster session at the CCBM open house
CCBM undergraduate students presented original research during a poster session at the CCBM open house

The CCBM open house was held in conjunction with the CCBM External Advisory Board Meeting, which included six distinguished faculty and experts from institutions across the U.S. who provide annual feedback to the center’s leadership.

“Through the annual CCBM open house, our center shares its research, education and community outreach and broadening participation mission with our campus and local community, highlighting its efforts at UC Merced,” CCBM Executive Director Carrie Kouadio said.

The CCBM is a National Science Foundation Center of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (NSF-CREST) with a focus on biophysics, bioengineering and biochemistry. The CCBM uses an interdisciplinary approach combining physical, biological and engineering methods to understand and control the functioning of multi-scale assemblies of biomolecules and cells, and to design and develop novel bio-inspired functioning machines ranging from designer cells and tissue to diagnostic and therapeutic devices.

The center is also focused on enhancing biophysics, biochemistry and bioengineering graduate and undergraduate education, as well as leading K-12 STEM outreach activities in the Merced area for teachers and students.