Some of the most innovative minds in the University of California’s bioengineering  field will visit UC Merced this weekend as the campus hosts the 10th annual UC Systemwide Bioengineering Symposium .
Students and faculty from all 10 UC campuses, as well as researchers from Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories, arrive on campus today for the symposium, which continues through June 21. Approximately 180 participants are expected to attend.
“It is exciting for us to host our colleagues,” said Michelle Khine, a bioengineer and assistant professor at UC Merced. “The symposium brings researchers together and helps spur synergies and collaborations among the University of California’s bioengineering community.”
Khine and UC Merced assistant professor Kara McCloskey  are co-chairing the 2009 symposium and have been busily planning the event for the past year. The two said it is fitting that UC Merced, the 10th University of California campus and the first American research  university of the 21st century, hosts the 10th symposium.
The annual gathering gives UC researchers and students an opportunity to discuss and share information regarding bioengineering research happening in their classrooms and laboratories, according to McCloskey. It also is an avenue that promotes collaborations on bioengineering research between UC campuses and laboratories.
“The symposium provides opportunities for our students and faculty to mix and network and offers students a chance to gain experience giving scientific oral presentations,” McCloskey said.
UC Merced is a part of the Bioengineering Institute of California , an approved multicampus research unit (MRU) that includes all 10 UC campuses. The campuses’ bioengineers work together to advance knowledge in biomedical engineering by collaborating in research, education and industry.
A number of UC Merced faculty and graduate  students are scheduled to present research during the weekend conference. Session topics include molecular and cellular engineering, biophysics, biomechanics, nanotechnology, drug delivery and targeting, and tissue engineering.
McCloskey, a member of UC Merced’s Stem Cell Consortium  whose research includes determining how to use stem cells to create new heart tissue , will co-chair sessions on stem cell and tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Khine, who specializes in microfluidic devices  that can track and examine individual cells, will co-chair a session that covers new frontiers in bioengineering. Professor Christopher Viney , who has studied the natural antiseptic, water repellent sunscreen made by hippos’ skin , will co-chair a session on biomechanics and biodevices.
More than a dozen graduate students in UC Merced’s Biological Engineering and Small-scale Technologies (BEST)  and Quantitative and Systems Biology  graduate programs will give oral presentations covering research projects.