Illinois Institute of Technology’s Armour College of Engineering has inducted Professor Ali Cinar as the Hyosung S. R. Cho Endowed Chair in Engineering, recognizing his dedication to innovative research through significant contributions beyond the classroom and laboratory.
Cinar has been a faculty member of Illinois Tech since 1982 and is currently a professor of chemical engineering as well as the director of the Engineering Center for Diabetes Research and Education. His research focuses on modeling, simulation, and control of biomedical systems, which includes the study of artificial pancreas systems for people with diabetes; agent-based modeling of complex adaptive systems; and the supervision of manufacturing operations.
Cinar emphasizes the support from the endowed chair position allows for key partnerships with colleagues and students to make substantial contributions to research and education. He adds, “It gives us the opportunity to further advance our work and allows us to invest in new research ideas.”
In particular, one major initiative jointly investigated by ECDRE, University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Chicago is the development of an artificial pancreas for individuals with type 1 diabetes. “Our research will provide the fundamental algorithms that are necessary for the next generation fully-automated more advanced artificial pancreas systems,” says Cinar.
The artificial pancreas consists of a glucose sensor, wristband, dedicated smart phone, and an insulin pump that is fully automated and does not require manual inputs from the user. He explains that regulating glucose levels requires an extensive amount of daily maintenance, and this mechanism takes away some of that responsibility from individuals with diabetes, especially for those who are unable to take care of themselves. He says that the current artificial systems are like "cruise control" in cars and his objective is to make them similar to "driverless cars."
Illinois Tech’s Engineering Center for Diabetes Research is the first of its kind in the United States to focus on technologies for the treatment and cure of diabetes. “We are the first group in the world to approach diabetes in this multivariable way,” says Cinar. By capturing the information in physiological variables reported by the wristband, we can interpret the presence of physical activities, physiological stress, and sleep characteristics, and adjust insulin dosing even before these factors affect the glucose levels of people with diabetes. This enables keeping the glucose levels of people within the desired range in spite of factors that will cause significant perturbations in glucose levels.
In addition to being grateful for all the support he has received, Cinar stated that he could not have been successful without wonderful collaborators and students. He adds, “Thank you, S. R. Cho, for having the vision for Illinois Tech to continue enabling innovative research and for supporting the diverse activities of our students and faculty.”
During the investiture ceremony, David J. Miniat, chief executive officer of Miniat Holdings, LLC, and member of Illinois Tech’s Board of Trustees, described Cinar as a “forward-thinking, tremendous researcher and someone who cares deeply about people with the disease.” Miniat shared that his son has an artificial pancreas and, for this reason, he is personally touched by Cinar’s work. “Today we not only celebrate the pursuit of knowledge, but also the humanity that Ali has shown in his professional endeavors, which has brought my family hope, dignity, and peace of mind,” adds Miniat.
Cinar received both his master’s and doctorate degrees in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University. He was inducted on Wednesday, March 27, during a ceremony held at The McCormick Tribune Campus Center.
The endowed chair was established by S. R. Cho, an Illinois Tech chemical engineering alumnus (CHBE ’65), and the Hyosung Corporation.