Clement Chan stands in his lab, his hand resting on the counter, with beakers behind him

Department of Biomedical Engineering researcher Clement Chan recently received a $1.5 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) to study protein and cellular engineering.

MIRA provides support for the nation's highly talented and promising investigators by providing investigators with greater stability and flexibility, thereby enhancing scientific productivity.

"The MIRA award provides flexibility to the awardee to explore innovative research ideas, which helps researchers like myself broaden our scope of research and explore new directions," said Chan, an assistant professor within the department. "I'm very grateful to have received this award and am looking forward to delving further into protein and cellular engineering."

The new funding allows Chan the opportunity to discover and design new functions and properties in biological proteins to, ultimately, generate new biological behavior. In doing so, Chan will be able to engineer cells so they can detect a series of environmental signals and, based on these signals, make new decisions.

"The ultimate goal for this project is to develop cellular devices that can be used for industrial, biomedical, or environmental applications," said Chan. "This grant gets us a step closer to that goal by allowing us the freedom to explore these complex cellular interactions."

Chan's work in cellular engineering was previously published in Nature Communications after he and a colleague modified the compatibility of proteins in cells by building connections at the molecular level that did not exist before.