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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Milan Mrksich, 33

Materials

University of Chicago

Marrying biological and electronic systems could yield advances in drug discovery, bioweapon detection—even computing. But the chemistry must be just right for living cells and electronics to talk. Milan Mrksich is the perfect matchmaker. The University of Chicago chemist coats the surfaces of electronic devices with organic molecules that can convert a chemical signal into an electrical one, and vice versa—creating a means of communication unlike anything developed by the handful of other researchers working on hybrid devices. Cells in a bioweapon detector, for example, could produce an enzyme when infected by a virus. The enzyme would interact with molecules on the surface of a microchip, triggering an electrical signal that would set off an alarm.With funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, Mrksich aims to build a prototype detector within five years. He also envisions computing devices that would exploit the different ways living and electronic systems handle information. But for now, Mrksich is just excited that he’s sparked a conversation between cells and circuits.

2002 TR35 Winners

Ewan Birney

Biotechnology

Fiona Brinkman

Biotechnology

Chris Burge

Biotechnology

Benjamin Cravatt

Biotechnology

Nathaniel David

Biotechnology

Susan Hagness

Medicine

Derek Hansford

Materials

J. Joseph Kim

Medicine

Steven Laken

Medicine

Kelvin Lee

Medicine

Milan Mrksich

Materials

Stephen OConnor

Biotechnology

Alexander Olek

Biotechnology

Vijay Pande

Biotechnology

Stephen Quake

Materials

David Sabatini

Biotechnology

John Santini

Medicine

David Schaffer

Medicine

Christoph Westphal

Biotechnology

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