The Bioengineering Lecture (formerly 'Bagrit Lecture Series') is the foremost prestigious annual lecture hosted by the Department of Bioengineering. 

The first five lectures were named after Sir Leon Bagrit in recognition of the great contribution made in his name to the Department and hence the discipline of Bioengineering through the Sir Leon Bagrit Trust.

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Bagrit Lecture Series


2023 Annual Bioengineering Lecture 

Speaker: Professor Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic

Lecture title: Engineering human tissues for medical impact

Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic is University Professor, the highest academic rank at Columbia University and the first engineer at Columbia to receive this distinction. She is also the Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Medicine.

Her lab focuses on engineering functional human tissues for use in regenerative medicine and patient-specific “organs-on-a-chip” for studies of human pathophysiology. She is well-published and highly cited (52,300 citations, h=128), mentored over 150 trainees, licensed numerous patents, and launched four start-up companies with her students. Gordana serves on the NIBIB Council and the HHMI Scientific Review Board.

Among her many recognitions, she was decorated by the Order of Karadjordje Star – Serbia’s highest honour, and elected to the Academia Europaea, Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, US National Academy of Engineering, US National Academy of Medicine, US National Academy of Inventors, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


2021 Annual Bioengineering Lecture 

Speaker: Mandyam V Srinivasan

Lecture title: Visual Guidance of Flight in Bees and Birds and Applications to Aircraft Guidance

Date: 26th May 2021, 09:00 - 10:00
Venue: Online, via Zoom
Vote of thanks: Professor Simon Schultz, Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London

Portrait of Professor Srinivasan

Srinivasan is a professor at the Queensland Brain Institute and the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering at the University of Queensland. His research focuses on the principles of visual processing, perception, and cognition in simple natural systems and on applying these principles to machine vision and robotics.

He holds a B.E. in Electrical Engineering from Bangalore University, an M.E. in Electronics from the Indian Institute of Science, a Ph.D. in Engineering and Applied Science from Yale University, a D.Sc. in Neuroethology from the Australian National University, and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Zurich. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, of the Royal Society of London, and of the German Academy of Science.

Previous Bioengineering Lectures

2019 Annual Bioengineering Lecture 
Speaker: Professor Albert van den Berg
Lecture title: From Lab on Chip to Organ on Chip

Date: 29th May 2019, 17:30 - 18:30
Venue: SAF LT G16, Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Imperial College London, South Kensington campus
In the Chair: Professor Edwin R Chilvers, Head of the National Heart & Lung Institute at Imperial College London

Prof Albert Van Den BergAlbert van den Berg is a Dutch physicist who works on nanotechnology-miniaturization in physics, chemistry, biology and biotechnology (nanofluidics, nanosensors, Lab on a chip (LOC)).

In 1988 he earned his PhD at the University of Twente with a thesis on chemically modified ISFETs. Then until 1993 he worked at the Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique (CSEM) in Neuchâtel and the Institut de microtechnique (IMT) at the University of Neuchâtel. During this time he worked mainly on miniaturized chemical sensors. From 1993 to 1999 he was director of research for Micro Total Analysis Systems (TAS, i.e. miniaturized systems for chemical analysis) and Miniaturized Chemical Systems (MiCS) at the Institute for Nanotechnology (MESA+) at the University of Twente. In 1998 he had a part-time professorship and from 2000 a full professorship. In 2003 he became head of nanofluidics within the Dutch national nanotechnology program (NanoNed). Van den Berg has co-authored over 250 scientific publications (H=44) and over 10 patents. He is or has been involved with 6 spin-off companies.

In 2002 he won the Simon Stevin Master Award of the Dutch Society of Science and Engineering. In 2009 he won the Spinoza Prize, the most prestigious Dutch science prize. As there was no fourth Spinoza Prize awarded in 2009, Van den Berg and his co-winners Michel Ferrari and Marten Scheffer asked the NWO to reward them the remaining prize money, which they would spend on a collaborative research effort. Their efforts culminated in a research paper on migraine published in PLOS ONE in 2013. The paper claimed that a critical tipping point of neurons started a migraine attack.

In 2018 he was appointed scientific (co)director of the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology. His work has resulted in some 10 spin-off companies. His current interests are microreactors, microanalytical systems, organs on chip and microfluidics for medical and sustainable applications.

He is a member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences and its council.


2018 Annual Bioengineering Lecture
Speaker: Professor Natalia Trayanova 
Lecture title: Computational Cardiology

Date: 18th June 2018, 17:30 - 18:30

Venue: SAF LT G16, Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Imperial College London, South Kensington campus

Vote of Thanks: Professor Nick Peters, Professor of Cardiac Electrophysiology at Imperial College London

TrayanovaDr. Natalia Trayanova is a Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Institute for Computational Medicine, and directs the Computational Cardiology Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Trayanova is known for her pioneering work in Computational Cardiology, for which, in 2013, she received the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award. Dr. Trayanova is the inaugural Murray B. Sachs Endowed Chair in Biomedical Engineering. She is a Fellow of the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering, Heart Rhythm Society, American Heart Association, Biomedical Engineering Society, and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

The translational research in Dr. Trayanova’s Computational Cardiology Laboratory centres around improvement of the clinical therapies of atrial and ventricular ablation, and the risk stratification for arrhythmias using a personalized MRI-based simulation approach. The basic science research in Dr. Trayanova lab focuses on understanding the pathological electrophysiological and electromechanical behaviour of the heart, with emphasis on the mechanisms for cardiac arrhythmogenesis and pump dysfunction.

Research in Dr. Trayanova’s laboratory is supported by grants from NIH, NSF, and the American Heart Association. Dr. Trayanova has published extensively: she is the author of over 250 peer-reviewed journal publications in prestigious journals. Dr. Trayanova has presented at many international meetings and has given numerous keynote and plenary lectures. She is the recipients of many research awards, among which the Discovery Innovation Award, Excellence in Research and Scholarship Award, and Outstanding Researcher Award, and the Fulbright Distinguished Research Award. She has also received awards for excellence in teaching.

Among her other professional activities, Dr. Trayanova is Associate Editor or Editorial Board Member of a number of journals, among which Heart Rhythm, Circulation: Arrhythmias and Electrophysiology, Journal of Interventional Cardiology, and Frontiers in Computational Physiology and Medicine. Dr. Trayanova has served as a member of the NIH ESTA and MABS as well as many other study sections. She currently serves on the FDA CIPA Steering Committee and the American Heart Association Research Funding Subcommittee.


 2017 Annual Bioengineering Lecture 22nd June 2017

The Power of Miniaturization in Medicine
Professor Sangeeta Bhatia

In the Chair: Professor Anthony Bull

Vote of Thanks: Professor Anthony Bull 


Prof James CollinsSangeeta Bhatia is a cancer researcher, MIT professor, and biotech entrepreneur who works to adapt technologies developed in the computer industry for medical innovation. Trained as both a physician and engineer at Harvard, MIT, and Brown University, Bhatia’s laboratory leverages ‘tiny technologies’ of miniaturization to yield inventions with new applications in tissue regeneration, stem cell differentiation, medical diagnostics, predictive toxicology, and drug delivery. She and her trainees have launched more than 10 biotechnology companies to improve human health. Bhatia has received many honours including the Lemelson-MIT Prize, known as the ‘Oscar for inventors,’ and the Heinz Medal for groundbreaking inventions and advocacy for women in STEM fields.  She is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Science, the National Academy of Inventors, and Brown University's Board of Trustees.



2016 Annual Bioengineering Lecture 15th June 2016

Synthetic Biology: Life Redesigned

Professor James Collins

In the Chair: Professor Anthony Bull

Vote of Thanks: Professor C Ross Ethier

Prof James Collins

James J. Collins is Termeer Professor of Bioengineering in the Department of Biological Engineering and Institute for Medical Engineering & Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He is also affiliated with the Broad Institute and the Wyss Institute.  His research group works in synthetic biology and systems biology, with a particular focus on using network biology approaches to study antibiotic action, bacterial defence mechanisms, and the emergence of resistance.  Professor Collins' patented technologies have been licensed by over 25 biotech, pharma and medical devices companies, and he has helped to launch a number of companies, including Sample6 Technologies, Synlogic and EnBiotix.  He has received numerous awards and honours, including a Rhodes Scholarship, a MacArthur "Genius" Award, an NIH Director's Pioneer Award, a Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Award, as well as several teaching awards.  Professor Collins is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and a charter fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

The Collins research group works in synthetic biology and systems biology, with a particular focus on using network biology approaches to study antibiotic action, bacterial defence mechanisms, and the emergence of resistance.


2015 Annual Bagrit Lecture 18 May 2015 

Why Don't We Get More Cancer? The critical role of extracellular matrix and the microenvironment in modelling metastasis and dormancy 

Professor Mina Bissell

In the Chair: Professor Alice Gast, President 

Vote of Thanks: Professor David Delpy CBE FRS FMedSci FREng

MinaProfessor Mina Bissell is a visionary and pioneer in the area of the role of extracellular matrix (ECM) and microenvironment in regulation of tissue-specific gene expression with special emphasis in breast cancer where she has changed a number of established paradigms. She earned an A.B. with honours in chemistry from Harvard College and a PhD in Bacterial Genetics from Harvard University. She joined the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 1972, became Director of Cell & Molecular Biology in 1988, and was appointed Director of all of Life Sciences in 1992. Upon stepping down, she was named Distinguished Scientist, one of only 3 current scientists and the first and only woman with this rank. She is also a Faculty of 4 Graduate Groups in UC Berkeley. She has trained close to 100 fellows and graduate students many of whom have their own successful careers.

Bissell has authored more than 380 publications, is a member of nine international scientific boards and currently is on the editorial board of a dozen scientific journals. She has given more than 120 ‘named and distinguished lectures and Keynotes’ lectures and has been both a Fogarty and Guggenheim Fellow. Her numerous awards include the: Lawrence Award and Medal, one of two the highest Awards of the US Department of Energy, the Mellon Award from the University of Pittsburgh, Eli Lilly/Clowes Award from AACR, first recipient of the “Innovator Award” of the US DOD for breast cancer research, Brinker Award and Medal from Komen Foundation, Discovery Health Channel Medical Honor and Medal, 2007 INSERM/France Foreign Scientist of the Year Award, FASEB Excellence in Science Award, AACR/Pezcollar International Award, American Cancer Society Medal of Honor for Basic Research, Alexander Bodini Foundation Prize for Scientific Excellence in Medicine, Breast Cancer Research Foundation's Jill Rose Award, AACR Distinguished Lectureship in Breast Cancer Research, The First Lifetime Achievement Award, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory In 2008, University of Porto, Portugal created the Mina J. Bissell Award to be given every 2 years to a person who has changed a field.

Bissell is the elected Fellow of the: AAAS, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society, The Royal Society of Chemistry, National Academy of Sciences, and in 2013 was inducted into the inaugural class of Fellows in the AACR Academy. She has served as President of the American Society of Cell Biology and the International Society of Differentiation. She has received honorary doctorates from Pierre & Marie Curie University in Paris and the University of Copenhagen.




2014 Annual Bagrit Lecture 5 June 2014

Bioanalysis: Cheap, Simple, Medically Relevant, and Universally Available - Professor George M. Whitesides

In the Chair: Professor James Stirling CBE FRS, Provost

Vote of Thanks: Professor Lord Ara Darzi PC KBE FRS FMedSci HonFREng

WhitesidesGeorge M. Whitesides received an A.B. degree from Harvard University in 1960 and a PhD from the California Institute of Technology (with J.D. Roberts) in 1964. He was a member of the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1963 to 1982. He joined the Department of Chemistry of Harvard University in 1982 and was Department Chairman 1986-89, and Mallinckrodt Professor of Chemistry from 1982-2004. He is now the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor.

Memberships and Fellowships:  Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, American Philosophical Society; Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Institute of Physics, American Physical Society, New York Academy of Sciences, World Technology Network, and American Chemical Society; Foreign Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Science; Honorary Member of the Materials Research Society of India; Honorary Fellow of the Chemical Research Society of India, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Royal Society of Chemistry (UK); Foreign Associate of the French Academy of Sciences; Honorary Professor, Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR), India.

Present research activities include: physical and organic chemistry, materials science, biophysics, water in biology, surface science, microfluidics, self-assembly, micro- and nanotechnology, science for developing economies, the origin of life, rational drug design, magnetic levitation, dissipative systems and emergence, complexity, and simplicity.  


2013 Annual Bagrit Lecture 10 June 2013

Photoacoustic tomography: beating diffusion and diffraction - Professor Lihong Wang

In the Chair: Professor Anthony Bull

Vote of Thanks: Professor Peter Wells FRS FREng FMedSci

Professor Lihong WangLihong Wang earned his PhD at Rice University, Houston, USA, under the tutelage of Robert Curl, Richard Smalley and Frank Tittel. His laboratory invented functional photoacoustic tomography, 3D photoacoustic microscopy, and time-reversed ultrasonically encoded (TRUE) optical focusing.

Professor Wang has published 335 journal articles and delivered 357 invited talks. His Google Scholar h-index and citations have reached 75 and 22,500 respectively and he has received 33 grants as PI with a budget of $39 million. He co-founded two companies to commercialise photoacoustic tomography.

He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Biomedical Optics and a Fellow of the AIMBE, OSA, IEEE, and SPIE. He was awarded OSA’s C.E.K. Mees Medal and IEEE Technical Achievement Award for seminal contributions to photoacoustic tomography and Monte Carlo modelling of photon transport in biological tissues and for leadership in the international biophotonics community.

2012 Annual Bagrit Lecture 14 May 2012

Optogenetics and other tools for the analysis of neural circuits - Professor Ed Boyden

In the Chair: Sir Keith O’Nions FRS

Vote of Thanks: Lord William Rees-Mogg 

Professor Ed BoydenEd Boyden is the Benesse Career Development Professor, and Associate Professor of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences, at the MIT Media Lab and the MIT McGovern Institute. He leads the Synthetic Neurobiology Group, which develops tools for controlling and observing the dynamic circuits of the brain, and uses these neurotechnologies to understand how cognition and emotion arise from brain network operation, as well as to enable systematic repair of intractable brain disorders such as epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic pain. The tools his group has invented include a suite of 'optogenetic' tools that are now in use by hundreds of groups around the world, for activating and silencing neurons with light. These tools enable the causal assessment of how specific neurons contribute to normal and pathological brain functions, revealing with great temporal precision the processes for which their activities are necessary or sufficient. He has launched an award-winning series of classes at MIT that teach principles of neuroengineering, starting with basic principles of how to control and observe neural functions, and culminating with strategies for launching companies in the nascent neurotechnology space.

He was named to the "Top 35 Innovators Under the Age of 35" by Technology Review in 2006, and to the "Top 20 Brains Under Age 40" by Discover Magazine in 2008. He has received the NIH Director's New Innovator Award, the Society for Neuroscience Research Award for Innovation in Neuroscience, the NSF CAREER Award, and the Paul Allen Distinguished Investigator Award. His work was in 2010 recognized as the "Method of the Year" by the journal Nature Methods, and in 2011, he delivered a lecture on optogenetics at TED. Ed received his PhD in neurosciences from Stanford University as a Hertz Fellow, where he discovered that the molecular mechanisms used to store a memory are determined by the content to be learned. Before that, he received three degrees in electrical engineering and physics from MIT. He has contributed to over 250 peer-reviewed papers, current or pending patents, and articles, and has given over 140 invited talks on his work.

2011 Annual Bagrit Lecture 19 May 2011

From cellular mechanotransduction to biologically inspired engineering - Professor Don Ingber

In the Chair: Sir Keith O’Nions FRS

Vote of Thanks: Lord William Rees-Mogg

Professor Don IngberDon is the Founding Director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University; the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School; and Professor of Bioengineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Dr Ingber is a leader in the emerging field of biologically inspired engineering, and at the Wyss Institute, he oversees a multifaceted effort to identify the mechanisms that living systems use to build, control and manufacture, and to apply these design principles to develop advanced materials and devices. He also leads the Biomimetic Microsystems platform in which microfabrication techniques from the computer industry are used to build tiny, complex, three-dimensional models of living human organs. These "organs on chips," which mimic complicated human functions, are being designed to replace traditional animal-based methods for testing of drugs and toxins. Ingber has made major contributions to mechanobiology, tissue engineering, tumour angiogenesis, systems biology, and nanobiotechnology. He was the first to recognize that tensegrity architecture (in which a system stabilizes itself mechanically by balancing local compression with continuous tension) is a fundamental principle that governs how living cells are structured at the nanometer scale.

Don has authored more than 325 publications and 70 patents and has received numerous honors including the Holst Medal, Pritzker Award from the Biomedical Engineering Society, Rous-Whipple Award from the American Society for Investigative Pathology, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of In Vitro Biology, and the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Innovator Award. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and a  fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.