Dimitrios Morikis Bioengineering Scholarship Fund


Bioengineering Dept D01285


Graduate or Undergraduate Student Support

Background: This fund was established in memory of Professor Dimitrios Morikis, a founding faculty member of the Department of Bioengineering in the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering, who passed away in May 2019. He was well known for his work in immunophysics and immunoengineering, where he used physics and engineering approaches to understand molecular mechanisms of immunology to develop disease models and design new drugs for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. He earned a PhD in Physics from Northeastern University and, following his postdoctoral work at Scripps Research Institutue and UC San Diego, he began his professorial career at UC Riverside's Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering. In 2006, he became a founding faculty member of the Department of Bioengineering and later became part of the faculty of the graduate program in Biomedical Sciences of the School of Medicine and of the Institute for Interactive Genome Biology.

"Throughout the years, there was a natural evolution from biophysics to bioengineering via structural biology and computational chemistry, which is consistent with the evolution of my research interests and training," Professor Morikis said during an interview about how his research had shifted.

His research focus on immune system function came after a personal struggle with illness. "In 1994, I got sick with a life-threatening disease of the bone marrow. Thanks to modern medicine and after a strenuous process, I recovered and managed to get back to research," he explained during the interview. "It was in 1995 when I decided to dedicate the rest of my research life in studying molecular basis of immune system function and trying to develop means to fight immune-mediated diseases."

Professor Morikis' most recent research was highly cross-disciplinary and focused on utilizing a blend of molecular-level and systems-level science and collaborations with researchers working on cell and tissue levels and in vivo studies. A prime focus of his work was the development of affordable potential pharamaceuticals for rare diseases. He led the immunophysics field as the Editor-in-Chief of BMC Biophysics.

He published more than 130 peer-reviewed research publications, facilitated more than $4 million in extramural research funds, and was named a Fellow of the American and Biological Engineering. "Dimitri was an accomplished scholar, a great colleague, and an outstanding citizen of UCR," said Xiaoping Hu, Chair of UCR's Department of Bioengineering.

As important as his research accomplishments, Professor Moikis was a caring and devoted teacher and mentor to numerous undergraduate and graduate students who went into successful careers and he received the 2012 Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research amd Creative Achievement. "Professor Morikis was a very supportive and his teachings have stayed with us as we continue to grow professionally and personally. He will be truly missed," wrote several students in the UCR Class 2012.

Professor Morikis is survived by his wife Gloria Gonzalez-Rivera, a UCR Professor of Economics, and their son Vasilios, who earned Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from UC Davis earlier this year.

General Purpose:
This fund shall be used by the Chair of the Department of Bioengineering to support undergraduate and graduate student scholarships.

Criteria and Selection:
- Students must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program in the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering
- Students must be enrolled full-time
- Students must be pursuing a degree in bioengineering
- Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0

Eff. 09/01/2019 Converted from endowment intent #6I0070 to true endowment.