Hamill Awards Since 2005

The Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering celebrates the recipients of the Hamill Innovations Awards, now in its 14th year, funding the initiation of new collaborative research projects led by faculty of the Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering at Rice.


2019

The IBB awarded $100,000 in prizes this year, honoring four interdisciplinary teams of Rice and the Texas Medical Center with $25,000 grants.

Akane Sano and Ashu Sabharwal of Rice and Nidal Moukaddam and Ramiro Salas of Baylor College of Medicine plan to detect “craving moments” with wearable devices that measure physiological and behavioral activity and prompt just-in-time intervention. Sano is an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and Sabharwal is department chair and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rice. Moukaddam is an assistant of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and Salas an associate professor of psychiatry research at Baylor.

2019 awardNatasha Kirienko and Jane Grande-Allen, both of Rice, will study the mechanisms behind pseudomonas aeruginosa, a multidrug-resistant pathogen that causes life-threatening bloodstream infections in immunocompromised patients, particularly those in intensive care units. They suspect the bacterium plays a critical but unrecognized role in cell damage during infection, inflammation and pathogen dissemination within the host. Kirienko is an assistant professor of biosciences and Grande-Allen is the Isabel C. Cameron Professor of Bioengineering and chair of the bioengineering department.

Christy Landes of Rice and Jonathan Kurie of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will use super-resolution microscopy techniques developed in Landes’ lab to study the role of endocytic and secretory vesicular traffic in the epithelial to mesenchymal transition process suspected of driving cancer metastasis. They plan to develop computational analysis tools and construct a kinetic model of vesicle fusion events in cancer cells to better define the mechanism. Landes is a professor of chemistry, of electrical and computer engineering and of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Rice. Kurie is a professor of thoracic/head and neck medical oncology at MD Anderson.

Todd Treangen of Rice and Sonia Villapol of Houston Methodist Hospital plan to explore the connection between the brain and microbiome in response to concussions, based on their identification of a link between the two in experiments. They hope to determine whether detectable changes in the microbiome after a concussion can lead to novel therapies. Treangen is an assistant professor of computer science. Villapol is an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Methodist.


2018

Xue Sherry Gao and Han Xiao, both of Rice, plan to incorporate synthetic amino acids into cells that add building blocks to the genetic code and generate protein structures and functions. The resulting biomolecules, they said, will revolutionize medicine through novel therapeutic approaches. Gao is the Ted N. Law Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Xiao is the Norman Hackerman-Welch Young Investigator and an assistant professor of chemistry.

2018 awardMatthew Bennett of Rice and Ankit Patel of Baylor College of Medicine will use high-resolution imaging and machine learning to understand the complex interactions between single-cell organisms, like bacteria in the gut microbiome, and their hosts. The work will enable the development of new therapeutic interventions. Bennett is an associate professor of biochemistry and cell biology. Patel is an assistant professor of neuroscience.

Caleb Bashor of Rice and Charles Lin of Baylor are working to build synthetic versions of insulated neighborhoods – chromatin structural domains that are central to genome organization – to gain a better understanding of their structure and transcriptional function. They expect to learn about the fundamental mechanisms of gene regulation. Inappropriate regulation is the source of many human diseases, including cancer and various genetic disorders. Bashor is an assistant professor of bioengineering. Lin is an assistant professor of molecular and human genetics.

Robert Raphael and Matteo Pasquali of Rice and Alex Sweeney of Baylor are developing a carbon nanotube fiber cochlear implant to help those who are hard of hearing or deaf. Thin, flexible and conductive nanotube fibers created in Pasquali’s lab could give the small device more and better connections to the inner ear’s auditory nerve. Raphael is an associate professor of bioengineering. Pasquali is a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, of materials science and nanoengineering and of chemistry. Sweeney is an assistant professor and Dorothy L. McGee Endowed Chair of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery.

Marina Vannucci of Rice and Dana DeMaster of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston are using a statistical approach to analyze neuroimaging data from children with traumatic brain injury. Their models of brain connectivity networks will lead to a better understanding of brain function and improved diagnostics and treatment. Vannucci is the Noah Harding Professor of Statistics and chairman of the Department of Statistics. DeMaster is an assistant professor of pediatrics.


2017

2017 awardJunghae Suh, Rice University Associate Professor of Bioengineering, and Peter Wolynes, Rice University D.R. Bullard-Welch Foundation Professor of Chemistry, for their project, "Thermodynamic factors driving virus capsid assembly and disassembly."

Ching-Hwa Kiang, Rice University Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy and Bioengineering, and Yizhi Jane Tao, Rice University Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, for their project "Understanding Virus Orsay δ Protein Through Single Molecule AFM."

Marcia K. O'Malley, Rice University Professor of Mechanical Engineering and and ECE Advisor to the Provost, and Qi Lin Cao, UT-Health Associate Professor of the Neurosurgery Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, for their project, "Innovative Robotic Forelimb Rehabilitation after Cervical Spinal Cord Injury."

Laura Segatori, Rice University Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Rafael Verduzco, Rice University Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Marco Sardiello, Baylor College of Medicine Assistant Professor of Molecular and Human Genetics, for their project, "Modulating Autophagy Activation through Model Bottlebrush Polymers."

2017 award 2Ashok Veeraraghavan, Rice University Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ashutosh Sabharwal, Rice University Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and James Suliburk, Baylor College of Medicine Associate Professor of Surgery, for their project, "PulseCam: Design, Development and Validation of Continuous Hemodynamic Imaging for Intensive Care Units."

These Hamill Awardees were announced at the IBB's celebration honoring the Hamill Foundation's 30 years of support to the institute. In attendance was Tom Brown (Grants Director, Hamill Foundation). Please see the Rice News article regarding this event for more details.


2016

Gang Bao, Rice University Foyt Family Professor of Bioengineering, William R. Lagor, Baylor College of Medicine Assistant Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, and Susan L. Hamilton, Baylor College of Medicine Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, for their project, "AAV-CRISPR based genome editing for treating autosomal dominant myopathy."

2016 awardScott P. Egan, Rice University Assistant Professor of BioSciences, and Luay Nakhleh, Rice University Associate Professor of Computer Science, for their project, "Integrating DNA diagnostics and population genomics to benefit society."

Tomasz S. Tkaczyk, Rice University Associate Professor of Bioengineering, and Michael Diehl, Rice University Associate Professor of Bioengineering, for their project, "Adaptive snapshot imaging spectrometer for design and analyses of therapeutic immune cells."

James M. Tour, Rice University T.T. & W.F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Sam Wu, Baylor College of Medicine Ophthalmology, and Emmanuel Y. Chang, Retina and Vitreous of Texas Adult and Pediatric Vitreoretinal Diseases and Surgery, for their project, "Design, fabrication, and testing of a high resolution retinal prosthesis."

Pulickel M. Ajayan, Rice University Professor of Materials Sciences & NanoEngineering, Chemistry, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Department Chair, and Ghanashyam Acharya, Baylor College of Medicine Translational Nanomedicine Research Laboratory Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Surgery, for their project, "Development of fluorinated graphene quantum dots as smart dual mode MRI contrast agent."

These Hamill awardees were honored at the IBB Special Seminar (featuring Robert Robbins, President of the TMC) on June 9th, 2016.


2015

Jacob T. Robinson, Rice University Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, and Weiwei Zhong, Rice University Assistant Professor of BioSciences, for their project, "Microfabricated Devices for High-throughput in vivo Neurobiology Studies."

Janet Braam, Rice University Wiess Professor (& Chair) of BioSciences, Laura Segatori, Rice University Associate Professor of BioSciences, Bioengineering, and Olivier Lichtarge, Baylor College of Medicine Computational Biologist of Molecular and Human Genetics, for their project, "Targeting Predicted ATG4 Regulatory Sites for Autophagy Regulation."

Weiwei Zhong, Rice University Assistant Professor of BioSciences, Yizhi Jane Tao, Rice University Associate Professor of BioSciences, and Jun Lou, Rice University Associate Professor of Materials Science and NanoEngineering, for their project, "Virus Engineering for the Biological Control of Parasitic Nematodes."

James A. McNew, Rice University Associate Professor of BioSciences and Michael R. Diehl, Rice University Associate Professor of Chemistry and Bioengineering, for their project, "The Role of ER Shaping Proteins in Peroxisome Biogenesis and Maintenance."

Amina Ann Qutub, Rice University Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and Dan Wagner, Rice University Associate Professor of BioSciences, for their project, "Characterizing and Controlling the Neurovasculature through Hypoxic Response."

Awards were presented at the IBB Awards Luncheon on May 7, 2015, in the BRC 1st Floor Event and Exhibition Hall.


2014

2014 awardLaura Segatori, Rice University Associate Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry & Cell Biology, Angel Marti, Rice University Assistant Professor of Chemistry, for their project, "Molecular Probes for Monitoring Protein Aggregation in Cells."

Jordan Miller, Rice University Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, and Jeffrey D. Hartgerink, Rice University Professor of Chemistry, for their project, "Design, Synthesis, and Characterization of Strain-Stiffening Hydrogels."

Cecilia Clementi, Rice University Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, and Christy F. Landes, Rice University Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, for their project, "Characterization of the Conformational Landscape of the NMDA Receptor by a Combined Theoretical-Experimental Approach."

Yizhi Jane Tao, Rice University Associate Professor of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, and Ching-Hwa Kiang, Rice University Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy, for their project, "Single Molecule Studies of Influenza A Virus Assembly."

Pedro J. Alvarez, Rice University Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Yu Yang, Rice University Postdoctoral Research Associate of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and George Bennett, Rice University Professor of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, for their project, "Manipulating Biofilm Formation of Halanaerobium spp."


2013

George Bennett, Rice University Professor of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, Yizhi Jane Tao, Rice University Associate Professor of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, and Ka-Yiu San, Rice University Professor of Bioengineering, for their project, “Using virus capsids to tune and control metabolic and regulatory circuits.”

Edward Nikonowicz, Rice University Professor of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, and Joff Silberg, Rice University Associate Professor of Biochemistry & Cell Biology and Bioengineering, for their project, “A Riboswitch for in situ Measurement of Charged tRNA Levels in Bacterial BiofilmCommunities.”

Deepak Nagrath, Rice University Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biomolecular Engineering and Engineering and Frank Tittel, Rice University Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Bioengineering, for their project, “Targeting Nitric Oxide Signaling and Metabolism to Sensitize Ovarian Cancer Cells to Chemo Drugs in Presence of Nutrients.”

Laura Segatori, Rice University Assistant Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry & Cell Biology and Junghae Suh, Rice University Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, for their project, “Genetically Encoded Nanotherapeutics for Neurodegenerative Diseases.”

Michael Stern, Rice University Professor of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, James McNew, Rice University Associate Professor of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, and Weiwei Zhong, Rice University Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Cell Biology and Computer Science, for their project, “The role of Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia Genes in Motor Neuron Function and Locomotor Behavior.”

Charlie Read, President of the Hamill Foundation, attended the IBB 2013 Awards Luncheon given on May 22, 2013 in the BRC Event & Exhibition Hall at Rice University.


2011

2011 awardCaroline A. Masiello, Rice University Assistant Professor of Earth Science, Jennifer Rudgers, Rice University Associate Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Joff Silberg, Rice University Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, and Kyriacos Zygourakis, Rice University A.J. Hartsook Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, for their project, “Investigating Biochar Impacts on Cell-Cell Communication.”

Matthew R. Bennett, Rice University Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and Jeffrey J. Tabor, Rice University Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, for their project, “Multi-Strain Synthetic Biology: Design and Construction of Genetically Controlled Micro-Ecosystems.”

Michael R. Diehl, Rice University Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Bioengineering, and Amina Qutub, Rice University Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, for their project, “Integrated Analyses of Coupling Between Angiogenic Signaling and Cyto-Mechanical Responses.”


2010

Dmitri O. Lapotko, Rice University Faculty Fellow of Physics and Astronomy, Director of US-Balarussian Lab, Fundamental/Appl’d Nanophotonics, and Daniel S. Wagner, Rice University Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, for their project, “Cell Theranostics with Tunable Plasmonic Nanobubbles.”

K. Jane Grande-Allen, Rice University Associate Professor of Bioengineering, and Deepak Nagrath, Rice University Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, for their project, “Glycolytic Metabolic Profiling of Mechanically Stimulated and Diseased Aortic Valve Cells.”

Pulickel Ajayan, Rice University Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Material Science, and Rafael Verduzco, Rice University Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, for their project, “Biomimetic Reconfigurable Hairy Nanocomposite Skins.”

These recipients were honored at the IBB Awards Ceremony on August 10th, 2010, in BRC 172.


2009

Sibani Lisa Biswal, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Laura Segatori, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and T.N. Law, for their project "Engineering a nanomechanical sensor to translate protein conformations for disease detection."

2009 awardKenneth Whitney, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Michael Covington, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, for their project "Seed-seed signaling in Arabidopsis thaliana: evolutionary ecology and molecular mechanisms of a newly-discovered process."

Michael S. Wong, Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry, Ramon Gonzalez, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Joff Silberg, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, for their project "Synthesis and characterization of bionanoparticles for light-triggered control of protein function."

Award recipients were honored at the 5th Annual IBB Symposium in July, 2009.


2008

George Bennett, Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, and Lydia Kavraki, Professor of Computer Science and Bioengineering, for their project “Computational Discovery and Evaluation of Novel Metabolic Pathways.”

K. Jane Grande-Allen, Associate Professor of Bioengineering, and Jun Lou, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, for their project “The Development and Application of an In-situ SEM Nanoindenter for Localized Quantitative Measurements of Heart Valve Mechanical Heterogeneity.”

Yizhi Jane Tao, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, and Ching-Hwa Kiang, Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Bioengineering, for their project “Assembly of the Influenza A Virus Ribonucleoprotein Complex.”

Jason Hafner, Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and Jeffrey Hartgerink, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Bioengineering, for their project “Heterotrimeric Collagen Assembly on Gold Nanorods.”

Joff Silberg, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, and Junghae Suh, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, for their project “Engineering Protein Switches that Control Adeno-Associated Virus Disassembly for Gene Therapy Applications.”


2007

Robert Raphael (Bioengineering) and Joff Silberg (Biochemistry and Cell Biology) for their project titled "Creating a Biosensor for In Vivo Measurements of Membrane Cholesterol in Single Cells."

Vicki Colvin (Chemistry), Rebekah Drezek (Bioengineering), Mary Ellen Lane (Biochemistry and Cell Biology), and Daniel Wagner (Biochemistry and Cell Biology) for their project titled "A Zebrafish Model for the Assessment of the Biological Properties of Nanomaterials."

Kathleen Beckingham (Biochemistry & Cell Biology) and Bruce Weisman (Chemistry) for their project titled "Use of a Model Organism to Develop Tissue Targeting of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes."

Cecilia Clementi (Chemistry) and Jeffrey Hartgerink (Chemistry) for their project titled "A Combined Experimental and Theoretical Approach to the Design and Characterization of PBX-Binding Peptides with Cancer Suppressing Activity."

Janet Braam (Biochemistry) and Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede (Biochemistry and Cell Biology) for their project titled "Ion Binding by Novel Sensor Proteins in Plants."


2006

Bonnie Bartel (Bioengineering and Chemistry) and James McNew (Biochemistry and Cell Biology) for their project titled “Uncovering New Roles for Peroxins.”

Michael Diehl (Bioengineering and Chemistry) and Anatoly B. Kolomeisky (Chemistry) for their project titled “Experimental and Theoretical Investigations of Biomotor Cooperativity.”

Robert Raphael (Bioengineering) and Thomas Killian (Physics and Astronomy) for their project titled “Development of a Microfabricated Magnetic Force Transducer On-a-Chip System for Cell Mechanics Studies.”

Jennifer Rudgers (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) and Carrie Masiello (Earth Sciences) for their project titled “Isolating AM Fungi as Keystone Regulators of Carbon Sequestration in Dune Ecosystems.”

Michael Kohn (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) and Michael Liebschner (Bioengineering) for their project titled “The Calcification Paradox in a Novel Rodent Model may be Explained with Hereditary Vitamin K-deficiency.”


2005

Rebekah Drezek (Bioengineering) and Yizhi Jane Tao (Biochemistry and Cell Biology) for their project titled “The Development of a Nanoparticle-Based Point-of-Care Influenza Detection Test.”

Ching-Hwa Kiang (Physics) and Yizhi Jane Tao (Biochemistry and Cell Biology) and Dr. Michael Deem (Bioengineering) for their project titled “Investigations of the Mechanical Properties of Human Cardiac Titan.”

K. Jane Grande-Allen (Bioengineering) and Joff Silberg (Biochemistry and Cell Biology) for their project titled “The Development and Application of New Tools to Sequence and Manipulation Complex Carbohydrates.”

George Bennett (Biochemistry and Cell Biology) and Ka-Yiu San (Bioengineering) “Exploring New Routes to the Biosynthesis of Pharmaceuticals.”