Joel W. Burdick

Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist

Professor Burdick researches robotic locomotion, sensor-based motion planning algorithms, multi-fingered robotic manipulation, applied nonlinear control theory, neural prosthetics, and medical applications of robotics. Professor Burdick has been focusing more of his expertise in robotics to the development of human prosthetics for paralysis. He has been collaborating with neuroscientists and has demonstrated rehabilitation technology that could repair paralyzing spinal cord injuries successfully.

Hyuck Choo

Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering; Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness, affecting an estimated 4 million Americans and 70 million individuals globally. As glaucoma typically affects the elderly, the aging demographic trends indicate that this disease will continue to be an increasing socioeconomic burden to society. In spite of its growing importance in our society, the pathogenesis of glaucoma has not been clearly determined, and only elevated intra-ocular pressures (IOP) have been identified as a major risk factor. Using my group's expertise in MEMS/NEMS, micro-/nano-scale optics/photonics, and novel micro-/nano-scale fabrication, we are developing minimally invasive medical device technologies that would improve the patient-management of glaucoma and increase the understanding of its pathogenesis. Initially we are focusing our effort on developing micro-/nano-scale pressure sensors that could easily and accurately measure IOPs in glaucoma patients and serve as very effective clinical management tools.

Tim Colonius

Frank and Ora Lee Marble Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Acoustic waves, especially high-intensity ultrasound and shock waves, are used for medical imaging and, increasingly, in manipulation of cells, tissue, and urinary calculi. They are used to treat kidney stone disease, plantar fasciitis, and bone nonunion, and are being investigated as a technique to ablate cancer tumors and mediate drug delivery. In many applications, acoustic waves interact with bubbles whose presence can either mediate the desired mechanical stresses and strains, or lead to collateral damage. Professor Colonius' interdisciplinary research group, uses theory and large-scale numerical simulations to study the dynamics and interaction of ultrasound and shock waves with inhomogeneous materials and bubbles, and to predict and optimize the local stresses and strains generated by insonification. They work with other engineers, scientists, and medical professionals to translate the fundamental mechanics into improvements in the design and clinical application of shockwave lithotripters.

Azita Emami

Andrew and Peggy Cherng Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering; Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute; EAS Division Deputy Chair

Azita Emami's research covers a wide range of topics in mixed-signal integrated circuits and systems. Her research group focuses on developing novel circuit and system-level solutions for a variety of applications. These include the design of high-performance, low-power and minimally invasive implantable and wearable medical devices for neural recording, neural stimulation and drug delivery. She is also developing adaptive, reconfigureable and reliable microelectronics, low-power sensors and efficient signal processing techniques for medical applications.

Andrei Faraon

Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science

Andrei Faraon's research is in integrated optics. He is working on developing on-chip optical devices for bio-sensing, and neural implants for opto-genetic applications. The bio-sensing devices integrate optical networks and micro-fluidics, where optical resonators are used to monitor bio-chemical reactions in micro-fluidic chambers. The neural implants integrate optics and electronics. Optical waveguides are used to deliver light that excites or inhibits neuronal activity using opto-genetic techniques, while electrodes record action potentials at the same location.

Morteza Gharib

Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Bioinspired Engineering; Director, Graduate Aerospace Laboratories; Director, Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies

Professor Gharib's broad range of research interests in medical engineering can be categorized in three areas: bio-inspired design and engineering; cardiovascular research; and microfluidics. In bio-inspired design and engineering, he is looking into the use of nanoscale carbon-tube carpet to develop medical adhesives and painless nanoscale needles. In the area of cardiovascular research, he is studying the hemodynamics and wave dynamics of large blood vessels, embryonic heart flow which includes computational studies, 3D studies of blood flow inside left ventricle, design and analysis of mechanical & bio-prosthetic heart valves, and the effect of epigenetic factor on valvulogenesis. He also researches fluid control and mixing in microfluidic devices for biomedical applications such microscale on-chip analysis.

Julia R. Greer

Professor of Materials Science and Mechanics

Creation of extremely strong yet ultra-light materials can be achieved by capitalizing on the hi­e­r­a­­r­chical design of 3-dimensional nano-lattices. Such structural meta-materials exhibit superior thermo­mechanical pro­­­per­­ties at ex­tre­me­ly low mass densities (lighter than aerogels), making these solid foams ideal for many scientific and tech­no­lo­gi­cal applications, especially in the medical field. The medical research thrusts in the Greer group span from biomimicking to creating nanostructured 3-dimensional scaffolds for cell growth to body-compatible batteries to power devices like pacemakers. A new pursuit in her group is to investigate the mechanical properties of trabecular bone, focusing on the effects of anisotropy on fracture and deformation behavior with the goal of creating more resilient artificial bones.

Robert H. (Bob) Grubbs

Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry

Professor Grubbs pursues research in: organometallic synthesis and mechanisms; organic synthesis and reagents; and polymer synthesis. As a world-renown expert in material synthesis, he is interested in synthesizing various optical/mechanical sensing materials and smart reshapable structural materials for medical applications. He has developed light-triggered shape-morphing polymers and demonstrated their use in light-adjustable intraocular lens that could reshape and compensate for the astigmatism that frequently results from cataract surgery.

S. A. (Ali) Hajimiri

Bren Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering; Executive Officer for Electrical Engineering; Co-Director, Space-Based Solar Power Project

Professor Hajimiri's research in medical engineering spans the fields of biosensors, drug delivery, terahertz imaging, and bio-inspired engineering. In biosensors, his group leverages electrical engineering and biochemistry to make very low cost handheld diagnosing devices for various diseases. They design and use silicon-based electronic chips in existing technologies for detection and monitoring of various conditions, such as cancer, tuberculosis, or hepatitis C. In therapeutics, they use magnetic particles for drug delivery in the brain. To accomplish this they have developed a sophisticated dynamic magnetic manipulation setup that allows them to ‘navigate’ magnetic particles to deliver drugs to the targeted cancer sites for improved efficacy. They also have developed low-cost handheld imagers in the terahertz range of electromagnetic waves for low-cost medical imaging.

Rustem F. Ismagilov

Ethel Wilson Bowles and Robert Bowles Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering; Director of the Jacobs Institute for Molecular Engineering for Medicine

Members of Ismagilov Lab have backgrounds in chemistry, biology, engineering, medicine, and biophysics—creating a rich, interdisciplinary environment in which to solve real-world problems. Uniting the group’s diverse interests is a commitment to improve global health, specifically via their work on the human microbiome and in vitro diagnostics. 

Ismagilov Lab has pioneered the development of microfluidic technologies (including droplet-based microfluidics and SlipChip). Microfluidics enables ultrasensitive, quantitative biomarker measurements, and provides tools with which to control and understand the dynamics of complex chemical and biological networks. Such capabilities are poised to revolutionize medicine—enabling rapid point-of-care diagnoses under a variety of settings outside of clinical labs. Currently, the lab is applying these innovative technologies to develop rapid diagnostics of antimicrobial susceptibility. In the context of the human microbiome, the lab works to understand host-microbe interactions that may lead to new therapeutics.

Axel Scherer

Bernard Neches Professor of Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics and Physics

Utilizing semiconductor batch-fabrication and device nanofabrication, Prof. Scherer's group have integrated optical, magnetic and fluidic devices with electronics. In the 1990s, Professor Scherer's group pioneered silicon photonics for data and telecommunications, and presently his group focuses on integrated disease diagnostic devices. The goal of this effort is to develop inexpensive tools that can instantly identify a strain of influenza or other common diseases for less than $5 and enable rapid point-of-care diagnosis. In addition, Professor Scherer's group is working on miniaturized continuous glucose monitors that enable accurate measurement of body glucose levels over an extended period as wireless implants.

Mikhail G. Shapiro

Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering; Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute

The Shapiro Lab develops technologies to image and manipulate cellular and molecular function non-invasively in living organisms. To develop such technologies, we pursue fundamental advances at the interface of molecular and cellular engineering with various forms of energy: magnetic, mechanical, thermal and chemical. Our work takes advantage of naturally evolved biological structures with unique physical properties, which we use as starting points for engineering. Our key biophysical methods include magnetic resonance, ultrasound, infrared and electrophysiology, and our primary biological focus is imaging and control of neural activity.

Yu-Chong Tai

Anna L. Rosen Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering; Andrew and Peggy Cherng Medical Engineering Leadership Chair; Executive Officer for Medical Engineering

Professor Tai’s research uses MEMS/NEMS technologies for medical applications. He has built the Caltech MEMS Laboratory (http://mems.caltech.edu), an 8,000-square-foot facility completely dedicated to medical devices. This facility has a clean-room (4,000 sq. ft), CAD lab, a measurement/test/metrology lab, and a biological lab. It supports more than 20 researchers (graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, visiting scholars and industrial members) to develop innovative MEMS and medical devices. Examples of MEMS/NEMS devices include micromotors, microphones, neural chips, micro relays, micro power generators, micro valves, micro pumps, etc. Over the past 15 years, Prof. Tai has launched a major research effort to apply all these technologies to medical devices. Research examples include HPLC-on-a-chip, blood-labs-on-a-chip, and micro drug delivery. More specifically, Tai’s group has had a major program for miniature or micro implants. To this end, Prof. Tai collaborates with many medical doctors and biologist (such as from USC, UCLA, and industries) to develop integrated implants for cortical, retinal and spinal applications. Micro implant devices included spinal neural stimulators, ECG implants, retinal prosthetic devices, intraocular lenses, etc. Tai's group is always looking for students, postdocs and researchers who love technology and enjoy building medical devices.

Lihong Wang

Bren Professor of Medical Engineering and Electrical Engineering

Professor Wang’s research focuses on biomedical imaging. In particular, his lab has developed photoacoustic imaging that allows peering noninvasively into biological tissues. Compared to conventional optical microscopy, his techniques have increased the penetration by nearly two orders of magnitude, breaking through the optical diffusion limit. The Wang lab has invented or discovered functional photoacoustic tomography, 3D photoacoustic microscopy, optical-resolution photoacoustic microscopy, photoacoustic Doppler effect, photoacoustic reporter gene imaging, microwave-induced thermoacoustic tomography, universal photoacoustic reconstruction algorithm, time-reversed ultrasonically encoded optical focusing, and compressed ultrafast photography (world’s fastest camera capable of 10 trillion frames per second). Combining rich optical contrast and scalable ultrasonic resolution, photoacoustic imaging is the only modality capable of providing multiscale high-resolution structural, functional, metabolic, and molecular imaging of organelles, cells, tissues, and organs as well as small-animal organisms in vivo. Broad applications include early-cancer detection, surgical guidance, and brain imaging. For example, it can help surgeons effectively remove breast cancer lumps, reducing the need for follow-up surgeries. Professor Wang’s Monte Carlo model of photon transport in scattering media is used worldwide as a standard tool.

Changhuei Yang

Thomas G. Myers Professor of Electrical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Medical Engineering

Professor Yang's research area is biophotonics—the imaging and extraction of information from biological targets through the use of light. His research efforts can be categorized into two major groups: chip-scale microscopy imaging and time-reversal based optical imaging.


Affiliated Faculty

Viviana Gradinaru

Assistant Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering; Investigator, Heritage Medical Research Institute; Director, Center for Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

Professor Gradinaru's work has focused on developing and using optogenetics (Gradinaru et al., Cell, 2010) and tissue clearing (Chung et al., Nature, 2013; Yang et al., Cell, 2014; Treweek et al., Nat.Prot, 2015) to dissect the circuitry underlying neurological disorders such as Parkinson's (Gradinaru et al., Science, 2009). Her group is now working to understand how perturbations of neuronal network activity can permanently impact the function and even viability of comprising neurons and ultimately change network properties and animal behavior. Of particular interest to the Gradinaru laboratory are chronic experiences, subtle but persistent actions on brain networks that can cause lasting changes in the structure and function of individual cells and circuits. Research on these topics has been complicated by the heterogeneous nature of the brain. Professor Gradinaru previously helped develop optical modulators of brain activity and the ability to target them to defined pathways as well as the methods necessary to monitor the influence of such manipulations. The Gradinaru laboratory will continue to develop and disseminate enabling technologies (including delivery vectors; Deverman et al, Nat.Biotech., 2016) for high content anatomical mapping and chronic bidirectional control to define circuit changes that affect cell function and health and to understand the fundamental mechanisms behind such changes.


Research Faculty

Jay L. Nadeau

Research Professor of Medical Engineering and Aerospace


Visting Faculty

Tzung K. Hsiai

Visiting Associate in Medical Engineering


Kanianthra M. (Mani) Chandy

Simon Ramo Professor of Computer Science, Emeritus

Professor Chandy builds and analyzes systems that sense and respond to changes. He is currently working on systems that sense and respond to: (a) seismic events, (b) threat events such as the introduction of nuclear radiation material, (c) medical events such a fetal distress, and (d) events in the power grid. The systems use sensor networks, cloud computing and event-driven architecture. The theory is based on optimization, control, machine learning and game theory.