This PUF project investigated the fascinating intersection of biology and electronics. When combined, these fields produce revolutionary applications—biosensors, electronic devices that help guide cell growth, and a multitude of biomedical research tools. Under French partner George Malliaras of Ecole des Mines de St. Etienne and American partner Harold Craighead of Cornell University this project targeted the use of electrically-active scaffolds for cell growth, capitalizing on advances by both partners in the use of conducting polymers to control the spatial arrangement of cells, and ultimately advancing knowledge in this domain.
The project offered exciting opportunities for students: a group of the ten students from France participating in the project visited the U.S. to receive training on nanofabrication, and a group of the 15 students from the U.S. visited their French partner site to receive training on nanobioelectronics. Funding from the Partner University Fund also enabled graduate students and faculty members to visit the Nanobiotechnology Center at Cornell University and the Centre Microélectronique de Provence of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint Etienne for research and training.
Students benefitted from live lectures by foreign faculty and courses that were broadcast from abroad, and training was completed through participation in annual workshops that were co-developed and co-taught by faculty from both countries—five faculty members from France and 12 from the U.S. The workshops helped develop a curriculum that was used as a template for a Master’s degree program at the French partner site, to be launched in the next two years.
Through courses, workshops, and research, a total of 280 students participated in the project over the course of three years. In addition to the educational opportunities it produced, the partners released 15 publications, and the Master’s-level program in Biomedical Devices is on its way to becoming a fully-fledged independent international Master’s course. This project greatly strengthened the connection between the two collaborating institutions. Said American partner Harold Craighead of Cornell University, “After conducting joint research and participating in exchanges with the French partner, I feel that I have a better understanding of the French educational system. I am more likely to recruit students from France to my research group.”