News/Events

ASU professor named to Fast Company’s 'Most Creative People in Business 2019'

May 22, 2019

Arizona State University Biodesign Institute researcher Hao Yan has been named to Fast Company’s list of “Most Creative People in Business 2019” for his work using nanobots to fight cancerous tumors by choking off their blood supply. Fast Company recognized Yan’s work using nanorobots to treat cancer at the molecular level. A pioneer in the field of DNA origami, Yan and his team in the  Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics  draw their inspiration from...

Using DNA templates to harness the sun’s energy

April 23, 2019

As the world struggles to meet the increasing demand for energy, coupled with the rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere from deforestation and the use of fossil fuels, photosynthesis in nature simply cannot keep up with the carbon cycle. But what if we could help the natural carbon cycle by learning from photosynthesis to generate our own sources of energy that didn't generate CO2? Artificial photosynthesis does just that, harnessing the sun's energy to generate fuel in ways that minimize CO2...

DNA on auto-pilot

January 3, 2019

Nature has made extravagant use of a simple molecule—DNA, the floorplan of all earthly life. Inventive researchers have used the same base-pairing properties that bond two strands of DNA into the familiar double helix to build innumerable useful structures at the nanometer scale. One such method, known as DNA origami, has yielded rich results in recent years, enabling the construction of a rapidly growing menagerie of 2- and 3-dimensional objects, with far-flung applications in material...

Healing kidneys with nanotechnology

November 8, 2018

Each year, there are some 13.3 million new cases of acute kidney injury (AKI), a serious affliction. Formerly known as acute renal failure, the ailment produces a rapid buildup of nitrogenous wastes and decreases urine output, usually within hours or days of disease onset.  Severe complications often ensue. Currently, there is no known cure for AKI. AKI is responsible for 1.7 million deaths annually. Protecting healthy kidneys from harm and treating those already injured remains a...

Tying the knot: New DNA nanostructures

November 2, 2018

Knots are indispensable tools for such human activities as sailing, fishing and rock climbing, (not to mention, tying shoes).  But tying a knot in a lacelike strand of DNA, measuring just billionths of a meter in length, requires patience and highly specialized expertise. Hao Yan, a researcher at ASU, is a practiced hand in this delicate and exotic field, operating at the crossroads of nanotechnology and fine art. In new research appearing in the journal Nature Communications, Yan...

Hao Yan awarded $1.2 million to create ‘living electronics’

October 18, 2018

Hao Yan, director of the Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics, received an extension of the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant for his groundbreaking work in nanotechnologies. The additional $1.2 million will help “set the foundation for the bottom-up engineering of synthetic biology tools,” according to Yan. A previous five-year grant of $6.25 million allowed Yan’s team to use structural components of cells to test out fundamental elements and...

Two ASU professors receive 2018 NIH New Innovator Award

October 2, 2018

“No. 1 in innovation” is an accolade ASU proclaims proudly in all realms of university life. Today, ASU proved once again that it is deserving of such a title.      ASU professors, Nicholas Stephanopoulos, assistant professor in the School of Molecular Sciences, and Rizal Hariadi, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, both researchers in the Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics, were announced as the recipients of the 2018 NIH New Innovator...

Single-celled architects inspire new nanotechnology

July 16, 2018

Diatoms are tiny, unicellular creatures, inhabiting oceans, lakes, rivers and soils. Through their respiration, they produce close to a quarter of the oxygen on earth, nearly as much as the world’s tropical forests. In addition to their ecological success across the planet, they have a number of remarkable properties. Diatoms live in glasslike homes of their own design, visible under magnification in an astonishing and aesthetically beautiful range of forms. Researchers have found...

Built for speed: DNA nanomachines take a (rapid) step forward

May 7, 2018

When it comes to matching simplicity with staggering creative potential, DNA may hold the prize. Built from an alphabet of just four nucleic acids, DNA provides the floorplan from which all earthly life is constructed. But DNA’s remarkable versatility doesn’t end there. Researchers have managed to coax segments of DNA into performing a host of useful tricks. DNA sequences can form logical circuits for nanoelectronic applications. They have been used to perform sophisticated...

Chinese partners bring strong potential to advance research at Biodesign Institute

January 3, 2018

ASU’s approach toward global research engagement addresses some of the most pressing problems facing us in health today—including global pandemics and a growing cancer incidence in the developing world—that are tied to issues that require multiple, transnational partners to come up with solutions more rapidly. Recently, ASU Biodesign Institute Executive Director Joshua LaBaer led a delegation to visit key Chinese partners to further explore new research possibilities. The stops...