Systems Biology of Cells in Engineered Environments

An NSF IGERT Program at the University of Delaware

Program Requirements

Research Rotations

Students are required to complete two laboratory rotations: one in an SB laboratory and one in an EE laboratory, which will facilitate their selection of advisors and begin the project selection process. These rotations will be similar in spirit and scope to rotational experiences that many life science graduate students experience.

Innovation Rotation

The third rotation will focus on helping students understand the importance and issues related to innovation and technology transfer. Students will form teams to develop solutions to an Innovation Rotation Problem. The project will be of a scope that can be addressed by two students working together during their rotational experience, with the support of faculty members and scientists from the company. The students will work interactively with industrial scientists to develop solutions to the real world problems.  

The solutions to the Innovation Rotation Problem will be judged by the company and the winning team will be invited to pursue their Industrial Internship at the company of interest, and will receive one extra semester support from the program. This unique rotation opportunity will provide students with experience in applying technological solutions to industrial problems while improving their approach to research.

Industrial Internship

Students are expected to select an industrial internship opportunity most relevant to their scientific and professional interests. We have an established network of national, regional, and local industrial internship partners.

Ethics, Business & Communication in Life Sciences Course

All students are required to take this course and it will be offered every Spring semester. This course will have three modules:

  1. Ethics: Students will study relevant ethical issues, including maintaining integrity of analytical results over disparate (and massive) omics data sets, social and cultural consequences of emerging conceptions of "life" in systems biology, and biotech applications in stem cell, tissue engineering, and drug delivery technologies.
  2. Business: Topics in this module will include entrepreneurship, finance, law, and intellectual property.
  3. Communication: Students will learn to communicate science with a specific focus on how to prepare audience-appropriate writings and presentations.

Systems Biology of Cells in Engineered Environments Course

All students are required to take this course and it will be offered every Fall semester. This course will focus on the scientific questions and engineering problems central to the overall program. Students will study SB research methods and data analysis, providing context for the data collected in rotations and developing projects. It will also include an in-depth study of problem areas of drug design, tissue engineering and stem cells, including physical, biological, and chemical interactions of cells with materials and environments, and issues in delivery of materials into cells and organelles, as well as molecular responses within cells.

Continuing Communication & Ethics Training

SBE2 Scholars will be asked to prepare two documents per publication they produce during the course of their graduate careers. The first will be a non-technical summary, worthy of a K-12 audience, describing the relevance of their work to the general public. The second document will be an analysis of ethical issues raised by the publication and/or addressed during the research project and production of the manuscript.

Scholars will also be required to participate in the Annual Symposium. Unlike other technical symposia, the SBE2 Symposium will not include technical presentations by SBE2 Scholars. Rather, it will include presentations designed to enhance science communication efforts in plain language to the public.


Scholars will gain practical experience in communication to non-academic audiences by developing materials and serving as communicators in the Science for all Delawareans (S4DE) initiative. The S4DE initiative includes outreach to local high schools, inreach of students from secondary schools, to give them the opportunity to gain research experiences in life science laboratories at UD.

News & Announcements

How Math Could Make Bones Stronger
Models help UD researchers calculate best dosage for osteoporosis treatment

Mar. 29, 2017 - They may seem rigid and set in their ways, but your bones are actually under constant construction and deconstruction.

Better battery membranes
UD researchers develop safer electrolytes and use novel technique to assess them

Apr. 2, 2015 - Most of us have seen dramatic photographs of laptops and even cars that have burst into flames due to failures in lithium-ion batteries. On a much larger scale, battery fires grounded Boeing's 787 Dreamliner jets for several months in 2013 while the company implemented new features to reduce the risk of overheating and combustion.

Platelets on demand
Research paves path to accelerating, enhancing platelet production

Sep. 25, 2014 - Platelets are an expensive biomedical commodity. These microscopic cells that come to the rescue when our blood vessels need to be repaired cannot be frozen and are stable for only three to five days at room temperature.

See all news stories

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