The Georgia Institute of Technology will be well represented when the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) gathers for its 2015 Annual Event, March 15-17, at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.
Four faculty members of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) and the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience will be inducted into the AIMBE College of Fellows.
Hanjoong Jo, Garrett Stanley, Johnna Temenoff, and May Wang survived an extensive, multi-step review process, were voted in by current fellows (each candidate must receive at least 74.5 percent in positive votes), and will be inducted on March 16.
“AIMBE fellows represent the very best of biomedical engineering, not just as respected scholars – which they certainly are – but also as leaders who will shape the field through their thought leadership,” says Bellamkonda, chairman of the Coulter Department, who is attending the induction and giving an opening speech as AIMBE’s current board president. “Our AIMBE fellows will have the opportunity to impact a wide range of issues from regulatory policy to engineering education. I cannot be more proud to have four of my Georgia Tech-Emory-BME colleagues elected to this prestigious body.”
With their induction, Georgia Tech will have 27 AIMBE fellows (Bellamkonda is one), an impressive accomplishment for the university’s biomedical engineering community when you consider there are only about 1,500 AIMBE fellows, total, and that represents the top two percent of medical and biological engineers in the field.
This year’s four honorees from Tech reflect the multitalented, multidisciplinary, collaborative qualities that have become synonymous with the Coulter Department and the Petit Institute.
Jo’s lab is working on more effective therapies to treat cardiovascular disease, “diseases that biomedical engineers can contribute uniquely to,” says Jo, professor in the Emory/Georgia Tech Coulter Department who last year was named a Biomedical Engineering Society fellow.
He is considered an international leader in the application of engineering to vascular biology. Among Jo’s contributions was development of a potential treatment for atherosclerosis that targets micro RNA, neutralizing the effects of disturbed blood flow on blood vessels, essentially preventing arteries from becoming blocked.
As an AIMBE fellow, he says he looks forward to the opportunity to connect with legislators at the state and local level (AIMBE is a leading advocate of public policy related to biomedical engineering).
“This is a new generation of biomedical engineering investigators,” says Jo. “And I think it’s important for us to help public policy leaders understand what we are doing to advance the understanding of diseases, and develop methods and technologies to improve human well being.”
We know so little about the brain and neurological disorders. In fact, we have almost everything to learn. That’s what makes it all so interesting to Stanley and his Neural Coding Laboratory, where they’re researching how information about the outside world is encoded by the patterns of spiking neurons in the sensory pathways of the brain.
“The fact that we really don’t know, that we’re really just beginning, is what propels a lot of people in this area of research,” says Stanley, a principal investigator in an early-stage $1.5 million NIH study that is part of President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative, a national movement that has only increased interest and competition in neuroscience research.
“The field of neuroscience is exploding, and it’s been a little surprising,” says Stanley. “To be specific, when the president of the United States is talking about your area of research as if it were the next moon shot, that can take you by surprise.”
About the AIMBE fellowship, Stanley says, “they’re trying to identify leadership and it’s an honor to be thought of that way and have that kind of role, but it also means you’re willing to commit time and effort in advancement of biomedical engineering.”
Before she came to Georgia Tech 10 years ago and became a leader in the growing field of biomaterials, Temenoff had already written the book on the subject.
And while Biomaterials: The Intersection of Biology and Materials Science (co-authored with her Rice University mentor, A.G. Mikos) became an award-winning textbook, Temenoff established a lab where they’re designing biomaterials to help regenerate the stuff we’re made of – tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bone.
“Part of my lab has been focused on degenerative conditions, like those found in tendon overuse injuries. Our approach has been to prevent further degeneration as a first step on the road to regenerative medicine, which could then lead to regenerating and restoring tissue,” says Temenoff, who is co-director of the Center for Regenerative Engineering and Medicine (REM). “But what’s excited me for several years now is this idea of what we can do with a biomaterial that doesn’t necessarily direct stem cell differentiation, but enhances the natural progression the cell is already undergoing.”
The AIMBE honor, she says, “recognizes 10 years of hard work in this field for me personally, all the work we’ve accomplished in my lab, as well as the fabulous research environment here. Getting inducted with three great colleagues only adds to the honor.”
May Dongmei Wang
Since joining the Coulter Department more than 12 years ago, Wang has been working on integrated translational biomedical informatics, researching and developing data analysis algorithms and computational models, ultimately for personalized and predictive health care.
“We have been developing innovative ‘big data’ analytics and systems to tackle challenges in bioinformatics, imaging informatics, and health informatics commonly existing in care for health”, says Wang, whose Bio-Medical Informatics and Bio-Imaging Lab (Bio-MIBLab) has contributed to a number of different multidisciplinary programs throughout the years. “With more data becoming available in the entire continuum care of health, the data to knowledge challenge is becoming more significant.”
As a new AIMBE fellow, she’ll continue to foster collaborative research programs involving the College of Engineering, the College of Science, the College of Computing, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory, among others.
She considers the honor as, “not only positive reinforcement of my efforts in building a strong informatics program, but also for our BME department's healthcare informatics and technology thrust area,” and adds, “I would like to serve in AIMBE to further promote biomedical engineering research and education, especially in the area of informatics for precision medicine.”
Communications Officer II
Parker H. Petit Institute for
Bioengineering and Bioscience