Gabe Kwong Invited to Join Nation’s Brightest Young Engineers at 2017 US Frontiers of Engineering Symposium

Gabe Kwong, assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory, is one of only 82 people selected to participate at the 2017 US Frontiers of Engineering symposium.

The symposium, organized by the National Academy of Engineering, gathers what the academy calls “exceptional” engineers from 30 to 45 years old to facilitate “cross-disciplinary exchange and promote the transfer of new techniques and approaches across fields in order to sustain and build U.S. innovative capacity.”

“The Frontiers of Engineering program brings together a particularly talented group of young engineers whose early-careers span different technical areas, perspectives and experiences,” said NAE President C. D. Mote, Jr. “But when they come together in this program, their mutual excitement is palpable, and a process of creating long-term benefits to society is often initiated.”

It’s a highly competitive and prestigious invitation, according to the National Academy of Engineering news release about the event.

“It is a privilege to be selected to join the Frontiers of Engineering Symposium,” said Gabe Kwong. “I am excited about the opportunity to interact with the brightest young minds within the engineering community, and exchange ideas across seemingly disparate disciplines.”

For 2017, the symposium will focus on the latest advances in four areas: mega-tall buildings and other future places of work, unraveling the complexity of the brain, energy strategies to power our future, and machines that teach themselves.

Gabe Kwong’s own research program is conducted at the interface of engineering and immunology. He and his multidisciplinary team develop nanotechnologies that interact with immune cells, enabling new applications in biomedical diagnostics and cell-based therapies. He has ten issued or pending patents and has launched one startup company.

“I often remind my lab that as bioengineers, we need to develop fluency in multiple academic languages before we can begin to innovate solutions to the most important problems in society” said Gabe Kwong. “I aim to bring my unique background in the physical and life sciences, and entrepreneurship to the fold.”

Invited participants for 2017 include three Georgia Tech assistant professors, as well as rising stars from organizations like Google, DARPA, 3M, IBM research labs, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and others.

The 2017 US Frontiers of Engineering program will be hosted by United Technologies Research Center in East Hartford, Conn., September 25-27. Read more about the NAE’s 2017 Frontiers of Engineering Symposium here.

Justin Kahla and Jason Weis win PURA Salary Awards

Congratulations to undergraduates Justin Kahla and Jason Weis for winning President’s Undergraduate Research Awards (PURA)! PURA fund student salaries to conduct undergraduate research with Georgia Tech faculty and offset travel expenses for undergraduates to present their research at professional conferences. Between two hundred and three hundred competitive awards are offered on campus each year. Read more about PURA here.

Lena Gamboa Castro named NSF Graduate Fellow

Congratulations to Lena for winning the NSF GRFP! The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. Read more here.

Quoc Mac awarded NSF Fellowship

Congratulations to Quoc for being named an NSF Fellow! The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. Read more here.

Hassan Fakhoury and Quoc Mac selected for the Petit Scholars Program 2017

Hassan has been selected as a Petit Undergraduate Scholar for 2017 with Quoc serving as his Petit Mentor. Congratulations!

From the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, “The Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars program is a competitive scholarship program that serves to develop the next generation of leading bioengineering and bioscience researchers by providing a comprehensive research experience for a full year. Open to all Atlanta area university students, the program allows undergraduates to conduct independent research in the state-of-the-art laboratories of the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience.”

Read more about the 2017 Scholars here.

LSI wins $1.5M NIH Director’s New Innovator Award

NIH announces funding for 88 awards on high-impact biomedical research

Gabe Kwong, assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory, was named a recipient of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) New Innovator Award on Oct. 4.

The High-Risk, High-Reward Research (HRHR) program, supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Common Fund, awarded 88 grants to highly creative and exceptional scientists with bold approaches to major challenges in biomedical research. The awards span the broad mission of the NIH and include groundbreaking research, such as engineering immune cells producing drugs at the site of diseased tissue; developing a sensor to rapidly detect antibiotic resistance of a bacterial infection; understanding how certain parasites evade host detection by continually changing their surface proteins; and developing implants that run off the electricity generated from the motion of a beating the heart.

“The program continues to support high-caliber investigators whose ideas stretch the boundaries of our scientific knowledge,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “We welcome the newest cohort of outstanding scientists to the program and look forward to their valuable contributions.”

Kwong is a recipient of the New Innovator Award for his project “Noninvasive and Predictive Biomarkers of Organ Transplant Rejection.” His research program is directed towards the advancement of human health by developing biomedical technologies that draw from the fields of engineering and immunology.

“Detecting early signs of organ transplant rejection is critical for the survival and health of the recipient, but the diagnostic gold standard is the biopsy – it is invasive and lacks predictive power. Our proposal is to develop an entirely new class of synthetic biomarkers that have the capacity to amplify disease signals and predict the onset of rejection at the earliest stages,” said Kwong.

NIH traditionally supports research projects, not individual investigators. However, the HRHR program seeks to identify scientists with ideas that have the potential for high impact, but may be at a stage too early to fare well in the traditional peer review process. These awards encourage creative, outside-the-box thinkers to pursue exciting and innovative ideas in biomedical research.

In 2016, the NIH issued 12 Pioneer awards, 48 New Innovator awards, 12 Transformative Research awards, and 16 Early Independence awards. The awards total approximately $127 million and represents contributions from the NIH Common Fund; the National Cancer Institute; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; National Institute of General Medical Sciences; National Institute of Mental Health; and the Big Data to Knowledge initiative.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit



LSI members awarded talks at the BMES 2016 Annual Meeting

Several members of LSI were selected to oral presentations at the BMES 2016 Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, MN. They are as follows:

Dr. Gabe Kwong – “A Mathematical Framework for Ultra-sensitive Detection of Cancer Using Activity-Based Biomarkers”

Shreyas Dahotre – “Highly Multiplexed Analysis of Cancer-specific T cells using DNA-barcoded peptide-MHC Tetramers”

Ian Miller – “Engineering Therapeutic T Cells that Activate by Photothermal Triggers”

Quoc Mac – “Activity-based Nanoparticles for Noninvasive Monitoring Of Organ Transplant Rejection”


Look forward to seeing you in Minneapolis!

LSI welcomes MD/PhD student Yun Min Chang

Yun Min “Danny” Chang joins LSI as a graduate student co-advised with Dr. Rafi Ahmed at Emory. Danny comes to us from the University of Florida where he completed a B.S. in Chemistry. Read more about Danny here.

Oliva Delmas joins LSI as a lab technician

The Laboratory of Synthetic Immunity welcomes Oliva as a lab tech. She joins us from the University of Alabama Birmingham where she completed a B.S. in Molcular Biology. Read more about Olivia here.