Dr. John A. Rogers

Director, Querrey-Simpson Institute for Bioelectrics
Northwestern University

“A Future for Materials Science at the Intersection with Biology and Medicine”

Biological systems are mechanically soft, with complex, time-dependent 3D curvilinear shapes; modern electronic technologies are rigid, with simple, static 2D layouts.   Eliminating these profound differences in properties will create vast opportunities in man-made devices that can intimately integrate into and onto the human body, for diagnostic, therapeutic or surgical function with important, unique capabilities in biomedical research and clinical healthcare.  Over the last decade, a convergence of new concepts in materials science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and advanced manufacturing has led to the emergence of diverse, novel classes of ‘biocompatible’ electronic systems designed to interface to living organisms.  This talk describes the key ideas and enabling materials, with an emphasis on functional devices that take the form of (1) soft, thin membranes that laminate onto organ surfaces, (2) hair-like needle structures that penetrate into the depths of tissues, (3) bioresorbable, or ‘transient’, devices that disappear into the body on timescales matched to natural processes and (4) open, three dimensional network architectures that interface with biology across large volumes.  Examples of clinically oriented activities built on the most mature of these technologies will be included. 

About Dr. John A. Rogers

Born in Rolla, Missouri, the son of University of Missouri alumni, John A. Rogers is one of the most accomplished biomedical engineers in the world, with an unmatched record of success in the development of advanced, low-cost technologies to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable patients, even in some of the most resource constrained areas of the globe. He is among less than roughly two dozen individuals in history to be elected to all three United States national academies — the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Medicine. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Rogers, who is director of the Querrey-Simpson Institute for Bioelectronics at Northwestern University, is widely recognized as the father of the field of bio-integrated electronic technologies — soft, biocompatible devices that naturally interface with the human body to provide continuous, clinical-grade information on physiological status and/or to deliver therapies that accelerate rates of recovery from injury and disease. He focuses on technologies that address challenges in maternal, fetal, neonatal and pediatric health, with additional programs oriented toward patients with neurodegenerative disorders. Rogers has more than 80 patents and patent applications in these areas and is faculty advisor to more than 100 undergraduate, graduate and medical students and postdoctoral fellows.

Rogers graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with undergraduate degrees in both chemistry and physics. He then moved on to become a graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He also was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University, a member of technical staff and director at Bell Laboratories and the highest chaired faculty member at the University of Illinois and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.

Rogers’ research is highly interdisciplinary across the boundaries of materials science, mechanics, electronics, biology and healthcare and has influenced and deeply inspired numerous scientists and engineers around the world — including those at MU. Additionally, more than 64 MU students and faculty across 11 MU departments at Mizzou have cited and used his work. For instance, Zheng Yan, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering, received his postdoc training in Rogers’ lab and joined the MU faculty in 2017. Inspired by Rogers’ research in soft bioelectronics, Yan is establishing his own independent research in porous-materials-based soft bioelectronics and their scalable manufacturing and has recently received the NSF CAREER Award and the UM System President’s Award for Early Career Excellence.

Over the years, Rogers’ work has been featured prominently in some of the most recognized news outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Scientific American, National Public Radio, British Broadcasting Corporation, and The Wall Street Journal, along with extensive profile pieces in The New Yorker and Chicago Tribune.

Rogers’ technologies have been showcased in the Museum of Modern Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago) and every Apple store in the US.

In 2013, Rogers was awarded the Smithsonian Award for American Ingenuity in the Physical Sciences followed by the Benjamin Franklin Medal for Materials Engineering in 2019. He has received a multitude of additional awards spanning over the entirety of his career, including MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships. He is the most highly cited biomedical engineer in the world with over 152,000 citations

Rogers has committed his life to improving the quality of life for the most vulnerable patients in the health care industry. His knowledge and accomplishments in these fields are unmatched.