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BioInspired Institute: Institute for Materials and Living Systems

The mission of the BioInspired Institute  is to promote world-class interdisciplinary research to quantitatively understand and control complex biological systems, and rationally design programmable smart materials to address grand challenges in health, medicine, and materials innovation. The institute is organized around four key focus groups:

  • Drug Discovery to develop new approaches for targeting drug-resistant bacteria and other diseases.
  • Smart Materials to design and make dynamic and adaptive materials that accelerate innovation.
  • Mechanics of Development and Disease to use the paradigm of mechanical forces to understand and control living tissues for better health.
  • Form and Function to develop new insights and technologies inspired by animal function.
biological cell

Recent Notable Awards

  • Prestigious fellowships: Fellows of the American Physical Society (Manning, Santangelo, Ross) and of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Green)
  • New NSF CAREER awardees (Ma, Zhang, Zheng) and continued funding for others (Castaneda, Paulsen, Wylie)
  • ORAU Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award (Wang)
  • ACS-PRF New Investigator Award (Zheng)
  • More than 175 peer-reviewed journal articles, including many in high-impact journals like Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Science, PLoS One, Nature Communications, Nano Letters, and Advanced Materials
  • One patent issued

Executive Leadership

Lisa Manning, director; William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Physics
James Henderson, associate director, associate professor, departments of biomedical and chemical engineering, biology (courtesy appointment)

Executive Staff

Dr. Jeremy Steinbacher, director of operations
Dr. Eric Finkelstein, facilities manager
Karen Low, operations specialist

Executive Committee

The BioInspired Executive Committee is made up of faculty who actively participate to provide collaborative leadership and scientific guidance to the Institute. The committee leads major institute programming priorities, soliciting feedback from membership and representing all constituents of the institute.

Jeffrey Amack, associate professor, cell and developmental biology, SUNY Upstate Medical University
James Hougland, associate professor, chemistry; adjunct assistant professor, SUNY Upstate Medical University
Ivan Ivanov, director, Michael Szwarc Polymer Research Institute; professor of chemistry, SUNY ESF
Shikha Nangia, associate professor, biomedical and chemical engineering
Teng Zhang, assistant professor, mechanical and aerospace engineering

Focus Group Leaders

Two focus group leaders are associated with each scientific area within the BioInspired Institute. Leaders’ duties include outlining research goals, communicating with search committees involved in faculty hires, and organizing members to submit collaborative grants.

Drug Discovery

John Chisholm, professor, chemistry
Roy Welch, professor, biology

Form and Function

Susan Parks, associate professor, biology

Mechanics of Development and Disease

Zhen Ma, assistant professor, BMCE; Samuel and Carol Nappi Research Scholar
Alison Patteson, assistant professor, physics

Smart Materials

Christian Santangelo, professor, physics
Pranav Soman, associate professor, biomedical and chemical engineering


In total, there are 63 faculty members associated with BioInspired Syracuse. Of these, 51 are from Syracuse University, 11 are from SUNY Upstate Medical University, and one is from SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry.