ECE Professor Brian Cunningham wins IEEE Sensors Council Technical Achievement Award

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By Shawn Adderly, ECE ILLINOIS
October 13, 2010

  • ECE Prof. Brian Cunningham was named recipient of the 2010 IEEE Sensors Council Technical Achievement Award.
  • Cunningham's research focuses on developing biosensor device structures and detection instrumentation.
  • The sensors he's developed can provide basic information about how biological organisms function, and can be used for diagnostic tests.

Brian T. Cunningham
Brian T. Cunningham

ECE Professor Brian T. Cunningham was named the recipient of the 2010 IEEE Sensors Council Technical Achievement Award for his role in the invention, development, and commercialization of photonic crystal biosensors.

“I am very honored that they recognized the work I’ve done in the area of photonic crystal biosensors,” he said.

Cunningham said he could have not won the award without the contributions of his colleagues at SRU Biosystems, a company he co-founded in 2000, and his students.

Cunningham, who has been at ECE ILLINOIS since 2004, has a very active research group of 14 graduate students and post-doctoral researchers working on the development of biosensor device structures and detection instrumentation.

Through the use of photonic crystal biosensors, Cunningham has been able to detect gene expression in plants, animals, and humans. This information is used to provide basic information about how biological organisms function, and can be used for diagnostic tests to determine a course of treatment that will be most effective for a particular disease.

He is also working on the development of new applications for biosensors with Paul Hergenrother, a professor in the Department of Chemistry, to measure how small chemical molecules modulate the interaction between proteins and DNA, as a means for finding new treatments for Parkinson’s disease and cancer.

Although Cunningham is in academia, he has worked hard to ensure that the technologies that he and his group develops become commercially available tools for the pharmaceutical and life science research communities.

“Many brilliant engineers, chemists, biologists, business people, and marketing people have contributed to the technical and commercial success of photonic crystal biosensors, and I am very fortunate to have worked with a very strong team of people at SRU Biosystems.  My students continue to push the boundaries of performance and new applications for photonic crystals, so there is a pipeline of new development for future products,” he said.

In late October, Cunningham will travel to Waikoloa, Hawaii, to accept his technical achievement award at the 2010 IEEE Sensors Conference.
“It’s not a bad time of year to visit Hawaii,” he said.

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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