ASU was the first university in the U.S. to create an interdisciplinary research institute entirely devoted to the principles of bioinspired innovation that fuses previously separate areas of knowledge to serve as a model for 21st century academic research.

These principles include an entrepreneurial research culture that is attractive to scientists capable of working across disciplines and in close cooperation with industry to translate discoveries into commercially viable products and clinical practices.

Created on the premise that scientists can overcome complex societal issues by emulating and re-imagining the “design rules” and trial-and-error approach found in nature, the institute’s researchers are addressing an expansive array of global challenges by creating “bioinspired” solutions, including: new vaccine discovery and delivery; early detection and treatment of cancer and infectious diseases; techniques for detecting and removing contaminants from air and water; and the application of nanotechnology for biomedicine and electronics.

To advance its bioinspired research mission, the Biodesign Institute has established different research centers and has more than 200 active research projects. Its 150 tenured faculty, who include one Nobel Prize winner and National Academy members, publish in top-tier, high impact scientific journals and collaborate with research and commercial enterprises around the world.

ASU’s efforts feed into and harmonize with a statewide initiative, Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, to build a robust bioscience economy in Arizona. This focused statewide effort began in 2002 with the promulgation of the Bioscience Roadmap that outlined the following returns to the community:

  • greater availability of new medical treatments for Arizona residents
  • opportunity to build a higher-wage, skilled, and technology-driven employment base, with added benefit of an industry that provides jobs at various skill levels
  • greater diversity for Arizona’s economy with a stable sector that balances more cyclical industries.

Biodesign’s contribution to this enterprise is evidenced in three key areas: capturing significant external funding for the generation of research output; attracting premier scientific talent and high-wage jobs to Arizona; and spurring innovation that produces economic growth.

Since its launch in 2002, Biodesign has attracted more than $760 million in funding from competitive grant awards as well as support from philanthropic and industry sources. Working in an entrepreneurial culture, its researchers have generated more than 860 invention disclosures, nearly 200 patents and fostered 35 spinout companies. The institute won Arizona’s “Excellence in Economic Development Award” for its innovative contributions to the state’s economic growth.

Biodesign’s contributions to the state’s workforce development include annual employment and training of more than 50 postdoctoral researchers and 470 undergraduate and graduate students, who will matriculate and enter the workforce. Biodesign has also provided hands-on research experiences for undergraduates, high school students and high school teachers to advance Arizona’s STEM education.