Brian T. Cunningham

Intel Alumni Endowed Chair
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Department of Bioengineering
Holonyak Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, 208 N. Wright St., Urbana, IL 61801
PhD 1990, MS 1987, BS 1986, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Prior Experience


SRU Biosystems, Woburn, MA; Founder, Director, Chief Technical Officer

  • Invented label-free high-throughput optical biosensor and readout instrument technology using nanostructured plastic surfaces that are micro-replicated from silicon master wafers. Applications include high-throughput pharmaceutical compound screening, molecular diagnostics, PCR, electrophoresis, label-free microarrays, proteomics, environmental detection, and whole-cell assays.
  • Company currently employs 40 people, including nine PhDs. Technology currently surpasses any other label-free method in terms of sensitivity, throughput, and cost-per-assay.
  • Lead product development, application development, and manufacturing of consumable biosensors and instrumentation for biosensor readout. Fielded first commercial prototypes 14 months from initial invention. Full commercial launch in 2003.
  • Responsible for intellectual property, journal publications, conference presentations, market identification, strategic partnership development, investor presentations, team development, and project management while also performing as a technical contributor.


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Adjunct Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

  • Co-investigator for DARPA-sponsored Bio-Optical Sensor System (BOSS) Center

1995 – 2000

Draper Laboratory, Cambridge, MA; Principal Member of Technical Staff, Group Leader for MEMS Sensors, Technical Director for Chemical and Biological Sensors

  • Technical leader for group of 30 scientists, engineers, and technicians developing novel miniature sensors and actuators. Responsible for defining and proposing new projects, staff development, and coordination of lab activities.
  • Invented and demonstrated MEMS resonators and resonator arrays capable of measuring biochemical interactions. Led technical team to characterize sensor array performance for several applications, including detection of biological weapons, real-time blood analysis, DNA sequencing, implantable biosensors, and protein analysis. Initiated laboratory activities in this area, which became a $2M/year program.
  • Invented and demonstrated MEMS-based tissue engineered structures capable of supporting liver cell growth through a three-dimensional capillary network. Ultimate goal of project (still active at Draper) is creation of an artificial liver.
  • Responsible for design, fabrication, and characterization of several novel MEMS devices including high-performance gyroscopes, accelerometers, on-wafer vacuum packaging, microphones, and optical mirror arrays.


Center for Innovative Minimally Invasive Therapy (CIMIT), Boston, MA (; Director of Miniature Sensor Advanced Technology Team, Member of Scientific Management Committee

  • Work with team of clinical research physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital to develop novel technical approaches to improve the effectiveness, invasiveness, and cost of health care. Generate collaborative project proposals and lead technical activity in the area of biomedical sensors.
  • Member of multidisciplinary panel that
    determines technical direction of CIMIT and evaluates project
    proposals. Member of CIMIT founding committee.


Raytheon Electronic Systems Division, Lexington, MA; Senior Project Scientist

  • Developed novel approaches for fabrication of multiple wavelength infrared imaging arrays and silicon MEMS infrared sensors. Demonstrated prototype systems and transfer of technology to manufacturing group.
  • Manager of infrared detector fabrication laboratory. Coordinated process development, readout circuit design, packaging, testing, and transfer of manufacturing. Supervised technical staff of scientists and engineers.


Sandia National Laboratory, Albuquerque, NM; Postdoctoral Scientist

  • Compound semiconductor epitaxy of InSb/InAsSb strained-layer heterostructures for infrared sensors.


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Research Assistant for Prof. G.E. Stillman

  • Epitaxial deposition of III-V semiconductor layers by MOCVD including GaAs, AlGaAs, InP, InGaAs, and GaP. Discovered and characterized the first effective carbon doping source for GaAs and AlGaAs.
  • Applied carbon doping to III-V device structures including HBTs and laser diodes. Demonstrated first carbon-doped base GaAs/AlGaAs HBT.



Ph.D. Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Professor: Dr. Gregory E. Stillman

Thesis: Carbon Doping of MOCVD-Grown Compound Semiconductor Epitaxial Layers Using Carbon Tetrachloride
Army Fellowship
Semiconductor Research Corporation Fellowship Award


M.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Professor: Dr. W. Kent Fuchs
Thesis: Fault Characterization and Delay Fault Testing of GaAs Logic Circuits


B.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Highest Honors
Bronze Tablet
James Scholar

Other Activities

  • Director, Center for Pathogen Diagnostics, 2020-
  • Director, Center for Genomic Diagnostics, 2019-
  • Program Leader: Cancer Measurement Technology and Data Science,  Cancer Center at Illinois
  • Director, Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, 2014-2020
  • Institute of Genomic Biology Theme Leader:  Omics Nanotechnology for Cancer Precision Medicine (ONC-PM) 2017-2019
  • Interim Director, Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, 2012-2014
  • Director, Bioengineering Graduate Program, 2010-2013
  • Director, NSF Center for Innovative Instrumentation Technology (CiiT) 2009 – 2015
  • College of Engineering Executive Committee, 2010-2012
  • IEEE Sensors Council, Executive Committee, Secretary and Treasurer, 2008-2009
  • NIH Review Panel, Instrumentation and System Development, ad hoc Member, October 2007, February 2008
  • NIH Review Panel, Instrumentation and System Development, Permanent Member, 2010-2014
  • Chairperson, NIH Study Section on Instrument and System Development, 2012-2014
  • NSF Review Panel, Biophotonics, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2016, 2017
  • NSF SBIR Review Panel, March 2005
  • ASTAR Review Panel, Biosensors, February 2005
  • NSF Site Review, Biophotonics Center at UC Davis, 2005, 2006, 2010
  • Journal Reviewer for Analytical Chemica Acta, Nanotechnology, Optics Communications, Optics Express, Applied Physics Letters, Lab on a Chip,  Nano Letters, Analyst, Light Science & Applications, IEEE Sensors, many others….
  • UIUC Senate, 2005-2007, 2009-2011, 2016-2018
  • UIUC ECE Department Fellowship Awards Committee, 2005-present
  • UIUC ECE Department Curriculum Committee, 2005-2007


  • Intel Alumni Endowed Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, 2020
  • Anner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, 2020
  • Fellow of the Royal Chemistry Society, 2020
  • IEEE Photonics Society Distinguished Lecturer, 2018-2019
  • Associate, Center for Advanced Studies, 2018
  • Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2016
  • Donald Biggar Willett Professor of Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2015
  • IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Technical Achievement Award, 2014
  • National Academy of Inventors, 2014
  • Fellow of the Optical Society of America, 2014
  • IEEE Sensors Council Distinguished Lecturer, 2013
  • Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), 2012
  • Fellow of IEEE, 2012
  • IEEE Sensors Council Technical Achievement Award, 2010
  • Medical Scholars Program Outstanding Advisor Award, 2010
  • Engineering Council Award for Excellence in Advising, 2010
  • Association for Laboratory Automation Innovation Award Top Candidate, 2009
  • Grainger Program in Emerging Technologies Grant, 2008
  • Xerox Award for Faculty Research, 2008
  • Draper Laboratory Best Patent Award, 2006
  • Senior Member of IEEE, 2007
  • Incomplete List of Faculty Rated “Excellent” by Students, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019