2020 Year in Review

The Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering (IQ) was established as research institute at MSU dedicated to integrating engineering principles into biomedicine. The mission of IQ is to create, and advance, the tools for quantitative analyses and interrogation of complex biological systems, and then use these tools for a greater understanding of life and living systems that will improve our ability to promote health and manage disease. Our vision is to develop the tools, technologies and knowledge that will ensure 100 years of health for all people, because Everyone deserves a century of health.

IQ in Numbers

40 faculty

47 postdocs

100+ graduate students

200+ undergraduate students

21 laboratory staff

16 administrative staff

6 corporate partnerships

~$31M in grant funding

2020 highlights


Mark Worden and Bryan Smith established a yearlong biomedical entrepreneurship training program under the name BioDesignIQ. In its first year, a partnership between the program and Henry Ford Hospital System’s (HFHS) Innovation Institute was forged, allowing MSU PhD students to shadow HFHS physicians to develop key relationships to develop solutions to clinical needs.


Kurt Zinn and Jinda Fan constructed a new radiopharmacy to produce advanced imaging agents for early disease detection and therapeutic interventions. Valuable radionuclides that can only be supplied by the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) will be converted into new radiotracers for biomedicine. The facility will support local researchers and serve the greater Lansing area with new ways to image disease and improve the health of Michiganders.

IQ Advanced Molecular Imaging Facility

In 2020, the IQ Advanced Molecular Imaging Facility was established, housing some of the world’s most advanced pre-clinical imaging systems. It includes the first commercial Magnetic Particle Imaging system, a premier simultaneous PET/MRI system which is the most advanced photoacoustics instrument available, an in-vivo microCT system capable of near cellular resolution, and an ensemble of optical imaging systems. 

Great Lakes Molecular Sciences Summer Courses

This recurring summer opportunity provides intensive courses at the cutting edge of multiple fields, building on regional expertise and taking advantage of Michigan summers on the Great Lakes. The first of these courses was the Great Lakes Advanced Molecular Imaging Course (GLAMIC), taught in collaboration with Western University in London, Ontario.

Leica Microsystems Center of Excellence

IQ has been designated as a Center of Excellence by Leica Microsystems as an academic leader in microscopic imaging and analysis. As a Center of Excellence, we have established a mutually beneficial collaborative relationship with Leica, designed to further the application and accessibility of advanced microscopy technologies in support of the life sciences and health research communities. 


2020 was a challenging year that forced almost everyone to adapt to a new set of circumstances. Click through the gallery below to see how IQ transitioned everything from events to research to keep science and education moving during a global pandemic.

Please note that all photos of people in groups without masks were taken before March 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions and stay at home orders were not yet in effect.

Brews and Views pre-pandemic

recognizing trainee achievements


ASHLEY MAKELA – Awarded highly competitive MetaVivor Foundation grant to use magnetic particle imaging to investigate breast cancer metastasis to the brain. Dr. Makela also received a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Canada) Postdoctoral Fellowship.

JOSHUA HEYZA – Awarded F32 fellowship by the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences and the NIH.

SEOCK-JIN CHUNG – Won the 2019 Alavi-Mandell Award from the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, recognizing outstanding contributions from young scientists who have published first-author original articles in the J. Nuc Med.

VIJAI KRISHNAN, LIN HUANG, ERIC PETERSEN – First recipients of the PerkinElmer-IQ Postdoctoral Fellowship program, established to advance scientific discovery within the eight thematic areas of IQ. Awards are based on excellence in graduate education and potential for future contributions to scientific discovery.

VALERIE TROUTMAN, PhDaccepted a faculty position in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. 


EMILY GREESON – Awarded 2020 Transdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship from the Center for Interdisciplinarity (C4I) at MSU. Emily’s team is investigating the barriers to colorectal cancer screenings in a rural Michigan population in a community partnership with MidMichigan Health – Gratiot.

TI’AIR RIGGINS – Received an NIH F99/K00 Blueprint Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience (D-SPAN) Award. The award supports graduate students from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in neuroscience research, from their graduate studies to their postdoctoral research.

CHIMA MADUKA – Awarded 2019 Mastercard scholarship from the Mastercard Foundation (MCF). MCF awards are made to students from sub-Saharan African countries with outstanding academic record and strong leadership potential, and seeks to advance education and financial inclusion to catalyze prosperity in developing countries.

KAY HADRICK – Awarded the College of Engineering Distinguished Scholar Award, which was established to recruit outstanding students with unique backgrounds to graduate study in engineering at MSU.

LEAH TERRIAN – Awarded the University Enrichment Fellowship by the MSU. The UEF is a recruitment fellowship that is awarded to outstanding students who plan to enroll in a doctoral or master program at MSU, recognizing student’s academic achievements, research goals, contribution to a diverse educational community, and a record of overcoming obstacles. 

Faculty highlights

SUDIN BHATTACHARYAAwarded a $2.36M R01 grant investigate the effect of environmental pollutants and toxins on activation of genes that have effects on the liver and immune system.

MICHELE GRIMM – Received an NSF EAGER award to develop an advanced computational model to investigate how the forces of labor and delivery affect the neonate and potentially cause injuries such as brachial plexus palsy. Dr. Grimm was also elected chair of the Academic Council of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. 

JENS SCHMIDTAwarded NIH Director’s New Innovator Award for $2.14M to study how human cells repair damage to their genome to prevent cancer

MATTHEW BERNARD – Appointed as the Director of the MSU Flow Cytometry Core Facility, which integrates the North & South Campus Flow Cytometry Cores.

RIPLA ARORAReceived the Basil O’ Connor Award from the March of Dimes, which supports early-career scientists embarking on independent research careers who are committed to fighting for the health of all moms and babies. 

AITOR AGUIRREAwarded a $2.4 M R01 from the NIH/NHLBI to develop novel therapeutic strategies for congenital heart defects in humans using the first mini-human heart models.

BRETT ETCHEBARNEDeveloped a rapid COVID-19 test and applied to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization for testing in Michigan.

WEN LIAwarded a $3.4M NIH R01 grant in collaboration with Erin Purcell to develop diamond implants that could let doctors diagnose and treat Parkinson’s disease earlier.

CHRISTINA CHAN – Received an NSF RAPID grant on COVID-19, aiming to uncover potential beneficial or harmful effects of the drugs currently being tested to treat COVID-19 on the cardiovascular, pulmonary, or immune systems of these vulnerable populations.

XUEFEI HUANG – Named an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow for distinguished contributions to the field of carbohydrate chemistry and glycobiology, particularly for the development of new synthetic methods, glyconanotechnology, and carbohydrate-based vaccines. Dr. Huang was also awarded the William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award, which honors MSU Faculty with a comprehensive and sustained record of scholarly excellence in research and/or creative activities, instruction and outreach. 

GALIT PELLEDAwarded an NIH BRAIN Initiative U01 for identifying sensory-motor circuits in octopus with the goal of designing the next-generation of bionic limbs. Dr. Pelled was also awarded the 2020 Withrow Excellence in Diversity Award, which recognizes faculty and staff members who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in advancing diversity through research, teaching, and outreach. 

ERIN PURCELLAwarded an NSF CAREER Award to advance the understanding of neurological diseases and injuries by studying the design and long-term device performance of brain electrodes. Dr. Purcell was also named a 2020 Withrow Distinguished Scholar, and was a recipient of the 2020 Withrow Teaching Excellence Award.

DEBAJIT SAHA – Awarded a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – DARPA/LeafLabs sub-contract to develop new generation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools based on microscopic insect brain functions. 

BRYAN SMITHAwarded a $2.6M NIH R01 grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop a new nanotechnology to re-stimulate macrophages to engulf and destroy tumor cells.