Med/Tech Industry Panel Addresses the Future of Health Care

by Lori Brandt, UCI Samueli School of Engineering

Dec. 1, 2022 – An overflow crowd of around 300 people attended the UCI Department of Biomedical Engineering 20 year anniversary celebration Nov. 4, 2022. The event kicked off in the morning with a Med/Tech Industry Panel in the ISEB auditorium.

Panelists included top executives from Edwards Lifesciences, Johnson and Johnson, Masimo, Medtronic and the NIH National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. Students, faculty and alumni attended the discussion about the future of health care, which was moderated by Naomi Chesler, professor of biomedical engineering and director of the UCI Cardiovascular Innovation & Research Center.

Samueli School Dean Magnus Egerstedt welcomed attendees and expressed his appreciation for the remarkable forward-thinking group of individuals who changed the engineering curriculum and the course of history at UCI in 2002 with the founding of the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

“You’ve managed to be extraordinarily successful and a role model on campus for connecting to industry and community and bringing in national funding,” said Egerstedt. “Thank you for being fearless, for changing the course of history. I know I speak for the Samueli School when I say how impressed we are with the first 20 years and how much we look forward to seeing what the next 20 brings.”

Zoran Nenadic, professor and department chair, also welcomed everyone and shared the history of the department’s formation. Three of the four founders – Steven George, Bruce Tromberg, Nicolaos Alexopoulos – attended the celebration. The fourth, Michael Berns, passed away in August. “His presence is sorely missed at this event and to honor his legacy and contributions to the forming of our department, we are launching the Michael Berns family scholarship to support undergraduate students in biomedical engineering,” said Nenadic.

After the five panelists introduced themselves, Chesler began the discussion with a question. How can medical technology companies help with preventive care so that our health care system becomes more proactive and less reactive?

“At Massimo, we develop noninvasive monitoring systems that are comparable to hospital systems,” said Dan Ho, director, systems engineering. “We’re figuring out how to get these technologies, sensors and devices, into the home. With wearables, we can help people monitor their vitals at home and seek help before they become critical. We also need to build platforms that allow clinicians to engage with patients, share a care plan and check in more easily.”

Virginia Giddings, vice president of exploration at Edwards Lifesciences, agreed with Ho. “How do we move care upstream and predict negative events earlier?”

Diagnostic-led precision medicine is where we want to go and where things will be in 20 years, said Tromberg, director of NIH NIBIB. “Right now, we are doing human biology snapshots, with blood panels and imaging for example, but what we need is to increase the frequency of these observations and measurements, increase the power in point of care, in-home access to this information. That’s where technology needs to go. We need to understand how to define someone’s health trajectory and how to alter or intervene. We need better input devices to gather higher value and actionable data. “

This thought brought the discussion around to data collection and sharing and artificial intelligence. Chesler noted that with all these new monitoring technologies, the industry was generating a lot of data. “But we’re not particularly savvy in how to integrate it, use it and be predictive about it. How can we use big data today to change health care?” said Chesler.

Giddings shared that Edwards has an AI algorithm that sits across monitoring devices in the ICU and is actually able to predict the future. “Our system can predict hypotension before it happens, which is huge because for patients after surgery, hypotension leads to complications such as kidney failure, heart damage and even death,” said Giddings. “Monitoring patients for this condition is also intensive from a nursing perspective, so having a predictive algorithm that can red flag a patient heading toward hypotension so nurses are able to intervene early helps with staffing issues.”

AI has played a significant role in improving stroke treatment, according to Dan Volz, president of Medtronic. “We have an AI software package that sits on CT scans and can identify and alert the clinician when a stroke is identified in a patient, helping increase the efficiency in time to treatment for these patients.”

Ho emphasized that this collecting of high level information should be accessible to everyone, including researchers, clinicians and patients.

John Knudson, director of research and development at Johnson and Johnson, explained how AI was advancing capabilities in robotic surgeries, which have the potential to standardize care and address physician shortages. He also mentioned the benefits of using AI in imaging to help identify diseases, particularly in ophthalmology. “It’s an exciting time for engineers, there’s the mechanical side, the electromechanical side, there’s a huge space to work in, for those going into engineering today.”

The panel addressed the importance of reducing disparities in care by hiring a diverse work force and conducting clinical trials that include all races and genders. Giddings shared that on the education side, nearly 50 percent of BME students were female, but companies’ leadership teams were not as good, only 30 percent. Chesler asked the executives what they were looking for in new graduates.

Knudson advised students to get hands-on experience in being able to work with people, gain an understanding in how to find common ground and develop solutions.

“There are very real problems to solve and we are energized by that,” said Volz. “It is a purpose-filled life, and if you are someone who leans toward that kind of mission, we need you.”

“We need smart people who are solution-oriented and can think differently and creatively,” said Giddings.

Follwing a robust question and answer session, the audience then had the opportunity to attend breakout sessions with alumni. A med/tech networking fair was held in the courtyard with eight businesses hosting tables and engaging with students. Pizza was served for lunch before an afternoon of carnival games, including a dunk tank, in which several BME professors  participated along with Dean Egerstedt. All got wet, one way or another. The day was capped with a dinner and fireside chat with the department’s founders.

For pictures, see the BME 20th Anniversary Celebration Facebook album.

Click here to read the full article on the UCI Samueli School of Engineering website.

National Academy of Medicine Elects Bruce Tromberg

by Lori Brandt, UCI Samueli School of Engineering

Nov. 8, 2022 – UCI biomedical engineering Professor Emeritus Bruce Tromberg has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest distinctions awarded to professionals in the medical sciences, health care and public health. He is one of 90 new U.S.-based members and 10 international members announced by the academy last month.

Tromberg, director of the NIH National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, is a founding faculty member of UCI’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. A renowned researcher in biophotonics, Tromberg served as director of the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic for more than 15 years. While there, he oversaw the development, application and dissemination of optical technologies in biology and medicine. His work includes pioneering research contributions to the technical fields of biophotonics and biomedical optics.

“I am honored and delighted to be named to the 2022 class of National Academy of Medicine members,” said Tromberg in an announcement published by the NIH NBIB. “I’ve been fortunate to work with so many generous and talented colleagues, both as a professor at the University of California, Irvine for nearly 30 years, and director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the National Institutes of Health since 2019. It is a constant source of inspiration and pride for me to be part of a community that develops cutting-edge technologies to improve the lives of patients.”

The academy cited Tromberg’s “leadership in biomedical engineering and the NIH Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Technology Initiative (RADx Tech).” At the NIH NBIB, Tromberg helped guide the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by engaging government, academia, and the research and development innovation/entrepreneurship community to increase SARS-COV-2 test capacity and performance in home, point-of-care and lab settings at unprecedented speed, scale and impact.

Click here to read the full article on the UCI Samueli School of Engineering website.

Turning off melanoma and other tumors

By Patrick J. Kiger

For UCI Health dermatologist Dr. Anand Ganesan, a specialist in skin disorders and a prolific research scientist, fighting cancer requires painstaking work to assemble bits of information — genetic information, in this case — to find a potential weapon against the disease.

That approach has led Ganesan and his colleagues to create a new molecular compound, ALY101, which has the potential to stop melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer, in its tracks and possibly a range of other challenging cancers, too.

Ganesan, a UCI School of Medicine professor who holds both a medical degree and a doctoral degree in microbiology and molecular genetics, compares cancer and the ALY101 molecule to Jenga, a popular game in which players take turns removing parts of a tower made of wooden blocks.

“A cancer cell is a big Jenga puzzle,” he says. “We want to figure out which blocks — that is, genes — are the right ones to target. The first thing we did was to say, ‘Let’s take out each block, one by one, and see how to fix the puzzle.’”

Unlike Jenga players, the goal wasn’t to keep the tower of blocks intact, says Ganesan, who also is co-director of the UCI Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Biotechnology, Imaging & Drug Discovery program.

Instead, he wanted to learn the role that each piece plays in cancer, in hopes of finding one he could pull out and stop the disease’s progression. “If we take away this gene, is the tumor still able to form?” he ponders. “Does it not metastasize? What happens?”

Eventually, Ganesan and his colleagues found a gene that plays a role both in chemotherapy resistance and in cancer progression. Their findings were published in the journal Cancer Research in 2012.

Then came the hardest part: figuring out how to switch off the finicky gene.

“That’s the real challenge because you have to target it when it’s switched on,” Ganesan says.

A key breakthrough came when he went to Italy to give a lecture on his discoveries and spoke with Marco De Vivo, director of the Molecular Modeling and Drug Discovery Laboratory at the Italian Institute of Technology. De Vivo uses sophisticated computer modeling to test which chemical compounds may be able to block a protein from binding to a particular spot on a cell.

Ganesan wanted to figure out which compounds would block the gene, but told De Vivo he was stymied because his target was unstable, flipping on and off. “He said, ‘Oh, that sounds interesting,’” Ganesan recalls.

Together, Ganesan and De Vivo used molecular modeling to create a new chemical compound that would do the trick. “That took a long time,” Ganesan says. “There was a lot of trial and error.”

In April 2022, Ganesan, De Vivo and colleagues published an article in the journal Cell Reports describing the promising results from ALY101. The work was supported by both the National Institutes of Health and the UCI AntiCancer Challenge, an annual fundraiser that provided his team with $40,000 in seed money.

There’s still much research to be done on ALY101 before it can be developed into a treatment, Ganesan says. In addition to further testing its effects on cancers, researchers have to determine the most effective way to administer it. He’s hopeful that it will help not only melanoma patients but also people with neurofibromas in the ear (tumors that can destroy hearing) and Ewing’s sarcoma (a bone cancer that strikes young people).

“‘We’re also looking at the drug for rare cancers,” he says. “There are a lot of rare cancers we have no treatments for.”

Click here to read the full article In UCI Health Live Well.

Born on a Basketball Court

by Tonya Becerra, UCI Samueli School of Engineering

Oct. 27, 2022 – UCI’s Department of Biomedical Engineering was born on the basketball court. Between dribbles and dunks, the vision of creating a new department, where engineering would merge with medicine and biological sciences for the betterment of human health, began to take shape.

In 1995, avid basketball fans Steven George, then chemical and biochemical engineering and materials science assistant professor, and Bruce Tromberg, then electrical and computer engineering associate professor, met on Sundays at the newly constructed University Hills basketball court for a regular pickup game with other faculty, postdocs, graduate students and occasionally the men’s head basketball coach.

“We chatted in between games about our families, Irvine and also our research programs,” says George. “It quickly became clear that the Beckman Laser Institute (and Medical Clinic), where Bruce’s lab was located, was the focal point for biomedical research on campus. Bruce mentioned there were several medical and doctoral students pursuing their thesis work at the BLI, but there was not an adequate home for the engineering-oriented students. Most of these students chose biophysics/physics or electrical engineering. He thought there might be an opportunity to develop a biomedical engineering program on campus.”

George told Tromberg about the Whitaker Foundation. “This foundation was investing heavily to establish biomedical engineering as a rigorous academic discipline in the form of grants to develop formal academic programs and departments, as well as ‘new/young’ investigator grants,” explains George, whose first extramural grant was from the Whitaker Foundation.

These early conversations at the basketball court occurred around 1995-96. “Without this beautiful new court, we may not have been able to retain Steve George, probably one of UCI’s most impactful ‘basketball plus leadership’ recruits of all time,” says Tromberg, who had come to the BLI as a postdoc in 1988. “BLI urgently needed a main campus partner to expand biophotonics as an academic discipline. Biophotonics and biomedical optics were growing exponentially around the world, driven by remarkable technologic advances and robust commercialization of medical lasers, phototherapies, optical coherence tomography (OCT), laser microscopies/microbeams and endoscopies/minimally invasive surgeries; all core areas pioneered by the BLI. This was vital for attracting and retaining students and faculty. Establishing a BME department was a perfect opportunity, but creating it from scratch required substantial investment.”

Enter Nicolaos “Nick” Alexopoulos, who arrived in summer 1997. He had left UCLA to join UCI as engineering dean and professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and he was integral in launching the BME department.

For Alexopoulos, the motivation was deeply personal. “I had an older and brilliant brother who was an engineer,” he says. “I became an engineer because of him. Unfortunately, he got eye melanoma and lost his eye. Within a year, there was a metastasis in his liver. I recall a visit to a doctor where my brother was told that he just worried too much. Yet the cancer was growing fast. When the doctor finally accepted the fact the tumor was inoperable, it had to be reduced in size. The only way to do it back then was with high levels of heat. So, my brother participated in an experiment, but the technology was too primitive and painful at the time. He did not survive it. This experience reinforced my goal to help educate doctor/engineers and doctor/scientists.”

Driven by the loss of his brother, Alexopoulos envisioned forming a BME department, “I immediately started the process, but the school was small and some faculty opposed it because they needed resources to grow their own departments. Nevertheless, I proceeded slowly and got the agreement and help from the dean of the medical school at that time, Dr. Tom Cesario, and colleagues at the Beckman Laser Institute.”

George says, “In 1997, there were only four departments and approximately 60 faculty, but the economy was starting to pick up and there were significant growth opportunities on the entire campus, including the school of engineering. During the 1997-98 academic year, I approached Nick about the Whitaker Foundation, and the opportunities they presented for establishing biomedical engineering programs/departments.

“I distinctly remember telling him, ‘I think we can be competitive for their smaller award – the Special Opportunity Award’ (approximately $1 million over three years). Nick did not hesitate: ‘Steve, what is their biggest award, and what would it take to get it?’ That changed my entire thinking about what might be possible. I said, ‘Well, there is the Development Award, but that award has only been given to a small number of campuses willing to invest like six to 10 new faculty lines and commit to forming a department.’ He said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

George and Alexopoulos were concerned about a junior faculty member leading the project and decided the BLI would need to play a guiding role. Tromberg introduced George to BLI Director Michael Berns. “Michael was keen on the idea and had the leadership skills to be the principal investigator on the application,” recalls George. “The problem was that he was not an engineer by training and really knew nothing about planning an undergraduate program in BME – a requirement of the Development Award. Michael and Bruce developed the research focus areas (photonics, computation and microfabrication/MEMS), and I developed the undergraduate and graduate programs. Nick committed something like six to eight new faculty lines and space in the school of engineering. We also cobbled together an early External Advisory Board that included William J. Link.”

In 1998, the Whitaker Foundation granted a $3-million Development Award to form the Center for Biomedical Engineering. “I am pretty sure we shocked the BME world at the time,” says George. “We were clearly the least ‘developed’ program that had ever received the Development Award, and our success was due to a combination of many features. But I think future potential, including the local biomedical device sector in Orange County, played a major role.”

Alexopoulos was also drawn to the immense potential of Orange County’s biomedical field. “Orange County was like a Silicon Valley but for biomedical technology companies,” he says. “I visited just about all of them (big and small) and asked them for their help and participation. They helped create the department by talking to the chancellor and administration, and by giving money to UCI and the school of engineering. Their support was also critical.”

One of the early industry supporters was Link and his wife, Marsha, who later donated $1.5 million to establish the William J. Link Endowed Chair in Biomedical Engineering in 2001. Link is a successful medical device entrepreneur and venture capitalist, whose companies have included Chiron Vision, American Medical Optics and Versant Ventures. “When I look through my engineering rose-colored glasses at recent medical advances, I see talented engineers who have discovered unique solutions for health problems,” said Link in 2002. “Marsha and I thought, ‘What better way to help than to contribute to a university we’re fond of and a field that we’ve benefited from immensely?’ It’s helped us do well and do good.”

“In the first year (1999), we recruited several new faculty and began the long process of establishing a new department and new undergraduate program,” recalls George. “Progress was good, but about halfway through the first year, Michael Berns had a recurrence of an illness that would not allow him to continue to lead the program.” With the support of Alexopoulos and Tromberg, George became the new principal investigator and eventually the founding chair, serving from 2002 to 2009.

In 2000, the BME graduate program launched. In 2002, the Center for Biomedical Engineering officially transformed into the Department of Biomedical Engineering, including two undergraduate degree programs and an expanded graduate program offering master’s degrees and doctorates.
“By the end of the Development Award in 2004, we had a critical mass of new faculty (six to eight), and the only existing faculty who moved to the new department were myself (50%), Bruce (50%), and Michael (50%),” says George.

William “Bill” Tang joined the faculty in 2002 and served as acting department chair from 2005 to 2006 and again from 2009 to 2010. He was also the school’s first associate dean for research from 2008 to 2013. Tang recalls: “My fondest memories are always the precious moments in the annual department retreats. We not only talked about the reviews and future plans of the department, but also took some time to promote friendship among the faculty. There was one time when quite a few of us brought our musical talents to entertain everyone. One of us actually played regularly in a local establishment. That must be my fondest memory of the department.”

Looking forward, Tang says, “I hope the department continues to excel in all that we do – research, teaching and service. I also hope that at the same time, we continue to grow in our diversity and collegial relationships.”

Part of the growing diversity was the arrival of Michelle Khine, BME’s first female faculty member in 2009. She was drawn to “the stellar microfabrication/ microfluidics folks here.” Khine says, “It was amazing how many leaders in the field were at UCI. Plus, the weather here sure beats the other places I was considering.”

Her experience turned into more than just fair-weather friends. “I was overwhelmed by how supportive and great this department is,” says Khine. “Enrico Gratton graciously opened his lab up to me and my students – so before my lab was even set up, we had published a paper together. Everyone was so great and collaborative that they quickly became a second family to me. In fact, the Elliots (Hui and Botvinick) are like brothers to me. Elliot Botvinick officiated both my wedding and my mom’s funeral. I’ve always felt appreciated, heard, supported and respected (which is not typical of my experience being a woman engineer!). This department is very special with amazing people. Now, I am so proud of the women we’ve recruited over the years.”

In 2002, Abraham “Abe” Lee was recruited for the newly established California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (CALIT2). When he arrived, he was offered the choice of which engineering department to join. “At the time, there was a Center for Biomedical Engineering but no department,” he recalls. “I jumped at the opportunity, knowing that a department would be started soon.”

Lee served as department chair from 2010 to 2019. He notes, “The early days were precious in the sense of a having a mission to build something special. BME at UCI essentially started from scratch, and we were able to put our stamp on what type of department we were building and what type of impact we were envisioning. This sense of the collective sum being much greater than the individual parts was empowering and enthralling, motivating us to do what was best for developing the overall department and not just be concerned with one’s own career. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“We also sensed the community’s support, especially coming from the stakeholders in the BME industry who were cheering us on to succeed. The students were also proud to be the first graduates of this nascent department, and many are now leaders in different sectors of the BME ecosystem (research, corporate, healthcare). Over the years, we could start to see the fruits of our endeavors, as BME at UCI is not just a novelty and curiosity, but a recognized and established program that is among the best in the nation.”

Although the basketball court was the seeding ground, the Whitaker Development Award was the overwhelming force that drove department formation forward, according to Tromberg. “What Whitaker did uniquely was create a culture that inspired our senior campus leaders who embraced the BME opportunity at a critical moment early in their UCI careers. They responded to the high level of expectations set by Whitaker leadership during multiple site visits. This had a huge and lasting impact that energized our faculty, students, administration and the Orange County region. Twenty years later, this legacy carries on with a remarkable return on investment for UCI and the national BME community.”

Today, the UCI BME department has evolved with 33 faculty, dozens of professional researchers, 136 graduate students and over 500 undergraduates. The focus areas for the master’s degree and doctoral programs include three technology areas of biomedical photonics/optoelectronics, biomedical nano- and microscale systems/fabrication, and biomedical computation/modeling. BME faculty garner extramural grants with expenditures topping $30 million annually.

“The UCI BME’s mission statement is Inspiring Engineering Minds to Advance Human Health,” says Lee. “I hope UCI BME never loses sight of what it set out to be, a department that focuses on the human aspect, to educate engineers who want to use their skills to better their fellow human beings. We built BME based on a community effort, and we should continue to serve the community that made it possible. The humble beginnings beg for a humble attitude toward the success and acclaim that we are garnering.”

Click here to read the full article on the UCI Samueli School of Engineering website.

NIBIB Director Bruce Tromberg elected to National Academy of Medicine

Engineering and physical science play an essential role in the development of new tools and technologies that drive biomedical discoveries and save lives.  The election of NIBIB Director Bruce J. Tromberg, Ph.D., on Oct. 17, 2022, to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), underscores this deep connection.  His work includes pioneering research contributions to the technical fields of biophotonics and biomedical optics, as well as extensive leadership in the biomedical engineering and imaging communities.

“I am honored and delighted to be named to the 2022 class of National Academy of Medicine members,” Tromberg said. “I’ve been fortunate to work with so many generous and talented colleagues, both as a professor at the University of California, Irvine for nearly 30 years, and Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the National Institutes of Health since 2019. It is a constant source of inspiration and pride for me to be part of a community that develops cutting-edge technologies to improve the lives of patients.”

Tromberg notes that NIBIB was established in December 2000 following a decade-long effort by prominent biomedical imaging and bioengineering leaders and professional societies to create a new NIH institute. “There is no doubt that NIH has proven to be an incredible environment for significantly expanding the scope and impact of biomedical engineering programs and technologies,” he said. “Without these bold investments, NIBIB’s signature RADx Tech program, recognized in my NAM election, would not have been possible.”

Election to the Academy of Medicine is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. Tromberg is one of 100 new members—90 regular members and 10 international members; he is among four new members named from NIH. The NAM is an independent organization of eminent professionals from diverse fields—health and medicine, the natural, social, and behavioral sciences, and others—who volunteer to advise the nation and the international community.

The NAM acknowledged Tromberg’ s longstanding leadership in biomedical engineering and more recent key role in the National Institutes of Health’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Technology (RADx® Tech) program, a crucial component of the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. By engaging government, academia, and the R&D innovation/entrepreneurship community, RADx Tech increased SARS-COV-2 test capacity and performance in over-the-counter, point-of-care, and lab settings at unprecedented speed, scale, and impact. These efforts enabled a fundamental shift in diagnostics, bringing COVID-19 tests into the home and laying the groundwork for next-generation telemedicine.

Tromberg also is chief of the Section on Biomedical Optics in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at NIH, where his team develops portable, bedside, non-contact and wearable technologies for quantitative sensing and imaging of tissue composition and metabolism. Prior to joining NIH in January 2019, he was a professor of Biomedical Engineering and Surgery at the University of California, Irvine. He also served as director of the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic (BLIMC) from 2003 to 2018 and the Laser Microbeam and Medical Program, an NIH National Biomedical Technology Center at the BLIMC, from 1997 to 2018. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the International Society for Optical Engineering, Optica, and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers.

The National Academy of Medicine was established in 1970 as the Institute of Medicine. Current members elect the incoming class comprising individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health. The 2022 class brings total membership in the academy to more than 2,200, including 190 international members. With their election, new members make a commitment to volunteer their service in National Academies activities.

With the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, the NAM serves as an adviser to the nation and the international community. Through its domestic and global initiatives, it works to address critical issues in health, medicine, and related policy and inspire positive action across sectors. It collaborates closely with its peer academies and other divisions within the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Click here to read the full article on the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering website.

National Academy of Medicine Elects 100 New Members

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) today announced the election of 90 regular members and 10 international members during its annual meeting. Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

“This extraordinary class of new members is comprised of exceptional scholars and leaders who have been at the forefront of responding to serious public health challenges, combatting social inequities, and achieving innovative discoveries,” said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau. “Their expertise will be vital to informing the future of health and medicine for the benefit of us all.  I am truly honored to welcome these esteemed individuals to the National Academy of Medicine.”

New members are elected by current members through a process that recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health. A diversity of talent among NAM’s membership is assured by its Articles of Organization, which stipulate that at least one-quarter of the membership is selected from fields outside the health professions — for example, from such fields as law, engineering, social sciences, and the humanities. The newly elected members bring NAM’s total membership to more than 2,200, including the 190 international members.

Established originally as the Institute of Medicine in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine addresses critical issues in health, science, medicine, and related policy and inspires positive actions across sectors. NAM works alongside the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding of STEMM. With their election, NAM members make a commitment to volunteer their service in National Academies activities.

Newly elected regular members of the National Academy of Medicine and their election citations are:

Opeolu Makanju Adeoye, MD, professor and chair, department of emergency medicine, Washington University, St. Louis. For his seminal work on national thrombolysis treatment rates for stroke and population access to thrombolysis and thrombectomy that identified disparities in stroke treatment rates and access to treatment. He led the American Stroke Association’s Recommendations on Establishing Stroke Systems of Care that has had significant health policy impact.

Marcella Alsan, MD, MPH, PhD, professor of public policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. For her scholarly insights on understanding the origins of medical mistrust and the role it plays in understanding health disparities. Her work has shaped policy in addressing disparities through increasing health care workforce diversity and improving messaging in reaching historically marginalized and vulnerable populations.

Julie A. Baldwin, PhD, Regents’ Professor, department of health sciences, and director, Center for Health Equity Research, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff. For internationally recognized pioneering research on community-driven HIV/AIDS and substance use prevention interventions for Indigenous youth implemented in school systems and Native communities in the U.S. and globally; and creating innovative public health research and training academic enterprises affording new pathways for Native and other historically underrepresented scientists.

Mark F. Bear, PhD, Picower Professor of Neuroscience, department of brain and cognitive sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. For his discovery of fundamental mechanisms by which sensory experience and deprivation modify synapses by increasing or decreasing their strength during the development of the brain, and how these mechanisms contribute to, and can be marshalled to treat, developmental brain disorders.

Seth Franklin Berkley, MD, chief executive officer, Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, Geneva, Switzerland. For being a global health leader and vaccine expert and leading efforts to vaccinate over half the world’s children, preventing some 15 million deaths. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he co-established COVAX, enabling developing country distribution of more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses. He also led a major initiative to develop HIV vaccines.

Craig Blackstone, MD, PhD, chief, movement disorders division, department of neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital; and professor of neurology, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Mass. For identifying cellular pathogenic mechanisms underlying common forms of hereditary spastic paraplegia and providing fundamental insight into the basic biology and functions of the endoplasmic reticulum.

Carlos Blanco, MD, PhD, director, division of epidemiology, services, and prevention research, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. For his pioneering work on the development of treatment and preventive interventions for substance use disorders that has shaped national thinking and guided over $3 billion in National Institutes of Health-supported research on the opioid epidemic, justice-involved populations, pain and addiction, cannabis legalization, and vaping.

Arleen F. Brown, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and co-director, UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute, University of California, Los Angeles; and chief, division of general internal medicine and health services research, Olive-View UCLA Medical Center. For being a pioneer in understanding how community, policy, health system, and individual factors contribute to racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and stroke in multiethnic communities. Throughout the pandemic, she has applied this expertise to enhance vaccine uptake and improve recovery from COVID-19.

Namandjé N. Bumpus, PhD, chief scientist, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and professor of pharmacology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore. For pioneering and seminal work in the fields of drug metabolism and antiviral pharmacology, and for advancing health equity through the translation of fundamental drug metabolism studies to the prediction of drug outcomes in humans.

Martin D. Burke, MD, PhD, May and Ving Lee Professor for Chemical Innovation, department of chemistry, and professor, Carle Illinois College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana. For creating a modular molecular synthesis platform with broad applications in health science and technology, including his pioneering research on molecular prosthetics for cystic fibrosis, and for helping mitigate the spread of COVID-19 with saliva-based testing.

Helen Burstin, MD, MPH, MACP, chief executive officer, Council of Medical Specialty Societies, Chicago. For her national leadership on the future of health care quality and improvement. Through a combination of effective leadership, methodological rigor, creativity, and innovation, she has significantly enhanced the nation’s ability to measure health/health care quality and disparities to promote quality and reduce health/health care inequities.

Nicole Calakos, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and neurobiology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C. For discoveries and leadership in basal ganglia physiology and its role in disease, including pioneering approaches to study basal ganglia circuitry, elucidating fundamental concepts for the molecular, cellular, and circuit basis of habit and compulsion, and discovering a unifying pathway mechanism for dystonia and subsequent drug development opportunities.

Yvette Calderon, MD, MS, chair of emergency medicine, Mount Sinai Beth Israel; and professor of emergency medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City. For outstanding contributions incorporating public health and primary care interventions in the emergency department for underserved communities, including HIV/hepatitis C testing, counseling, and treatment programs in New York City, now replicated internationally, partnering emergency departments, health departments, and community organizations; and for substantial efforts to augment diversity and inclusion in our medical workforce.

Christopher Carpenter, PhD, E. Bronson Ingram Professor of Economics, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn. For his outstanding research on public policies intended to curb risky behaviors and his seminal work evaluating the clinical and economic effects of LGBTQ-related public policies including same-sex marriage.

Ana Mari Cauce, PhD, professor of psychology and president, University of Washington, Seattle. For exemplary and visionary leadership in public higher education administration; innovations in health research, education, and service systems that enhance pathways for women and underrepresented groups; initiatives to address interconnections between health equity, population health, and climate change; and pioneering behavioral health intervention research on Latinos.

Zhijian “James” Chen, PhD, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and George L. MacGregor Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science and professor, department of molecular biology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas. For discovering the DNA sensing enzyme cGAS and its product cGAMP, thereby solving the question of how DNA triggers immune responses from the interior of a cell. He also discovered MAVS, which mediates immune defense against RNA viruses. These discoveries greatly advance our understanding of nucleic acid immunity and diseases.

Regina S. Cunningham, PhD, RN, FAAN, chief executive officer, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia. For leadership in advancing outcome-driven improvements in quality, health equity, and clinician well-being through the development of advanced care delivery models and innovative interprofessional roles. Her expertise as a health care executive, researcher, and educator has catalyzed the implementation of innovations nationally and internationally.

Deborah Victoria Deas, MD, MPH, vice chancellor for health sciences and Mark and Pam Rubin Dean, School of Medicine, University of California, Riverside. For contributing to the extant literature, generating millions in grant funding on adolescents with substance use disorders, and being a national contributor to addressing health disparities through diversifying the physician workforce, especially Black males in medicine.

Marie-Carmelle Elie, MD, FACEP, FCCM, endowed professor and chair, department of emergency medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham Heersink School of Medicine, Birmingham. For being the first African American woman to chair an academic emergency department in the nation, representing the first scholar at the crossroads of the emergency medicine, critical care, and palliative care disciplines to achieve such recognition in North America.

Wafaie Fawzi, MBBS, DrPH, Richard Saltonstall Professor of Population Sciences and professor of nutrition, epidemiology, and global health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston. For making outstanding contributions to advancing the science of safety and efficacy of nutritional interventions in the prevention and management of major global health threats, for spurring translation of evidence into policy and programs, and for leading major efforts to train future public health leaders.

Henri Ronald Ford, MD, MHA, dean and chief academic officer, University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, Miami. For his charismatic, mission-driven leadership at three institutions, transforming the landscape for building diversity, equity, and inclusion into the educational and clinical fabric of medicine. His extraordinary administrative skills catalyzed cultural change, financial turnaround, and innovative curricular reform training the next generation of physicians and physician-scientists while promoting health equity.

Elizabeth J. Fowler, PhD, JD, deputy administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and director, CMS Innovation Center, Washington, D.C. For being a chief architect of the Affordable Care Act and Medicare Modernization Act and leading CMS efforts on Medicare payment and delivery system reform.

Wayne A. I. Frederick, MD, MBA, Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery and president, Howard University, Washington, D.C. For being a tireless and gifted higher education leader and health care administrator and world-renowned surgeon. As president of Howard University, he has worked to develop a diverse health care workforce while serving as an adviser to U.S. and international officials in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

Katherine A. Gallagher, MD, John R. Pfeifer Professor of Vascular Surgery, professor of surgery and of microbiology and immunology, and vice chair of basic and translational science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. For her innovative translational research on epigenetic regulation of immune cells during normal and pathologic tissue repair and other cardiovascular disease processes.

Sankar Ghosh, PhD, Silverstein and Hutt Family Professor and chair, department of microbiology and immunology, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York City. For being a pioneer in the purification and cloning of the members the NF-kB family of transcription factors, key effectors of many physiological and pathological states. He elucidated the mechanisms by which NF-kB is regulated and established strategies for targeting it therapeutically for inflammatory diseases and cancer.

Peter M. Glazer, MD, PhD, Robert E. Hunter Professor and chair, department of therapeutic radiology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn. For discovering that tumor hypoxia causes genetic instability and that IDH1 mutations suppress DNA repair in cancers, conferring vulnerability to radiation and PARP inhibitors. He developed novel DNA repair inhibitors for cancer therapy and triplex-forming oligonucleotides for gene editing. His work led to multiple new clinical trials for cancer.

Farshid Guilak, PhD, Mildred Simon Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Washington University; and director of research, Shriners Hospitals for Children, St. Louis. For contributions to the understanding of musculoskeletal diseases such as arthritis, and the development of new disease therapies through the creation of multiple novel fields of biomedical engineering, including functional tissue engineering, mechanogenetics, and synthetic chronogenetics.

David H. Gutmann, MD, PhD, Donald O. Schnuck Family Professor of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis. For seminal contributions to the field of neurofibromatosis and related disorders, establishing novel human and murine preclinical model systems to elucidate the impact of germline genetics, cancer cells of origin, and the tumor microenvironment on pediatric brain tumor biology, patient risk assessment, clinical outcome, and targeted therapeutics.

Michele Heisler, MD, MPA, professor of internal medicine and public health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; and medical director, Physicians for Human Rights, New York City. For her pioneering research on the intersections of health, human rights, and health equity that has informed national and international programs and policies. She has designed and implemented effective peer, family, and community support programs in low-resource settings, elucidated health impacts of human rights violations, and successfully advocated for remedies.

Tracey Holloway, PhD, Jeff Rudd and Jeanne Bissell Professor of Energy Analysis and Policy, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Madison. For advancing understanding of the health benefits of climate solutions, and connecting scientific methods from the atmospheric sciences with health information needs. In particular, she has championed satellite applications to health through her leadership of NASA initiatives, and connected climate with health for over 20 years.

Lora V. Hooper, PhD, professor and chair, department of immunology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas. For pioneering analyses of how the gut microbiota shape host metabolism and immunity. Notably, she demonstrated how gut anti-microbial peptides contribute to host-bacterial homeostasis, including facets of mucosal barrier function. Her approaches have integrated, in an elegant, innovative and highly informative manner, the experimental tools and concepts of several disciplines to provide key new biological insights.

Elizabeth A. Howell, MD, MPP, Harrison McCrea Dickson President’s Distinguished Professor and chair, department of obstetrics and gynecology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. For illuminating the extent and origin of racial and ethnic disparities in women and children’s health, and elucidating interventions to remedy these disparities through her pioneering health services research, leadership, and advocacy.

Judith A. James, MD, PhD, chair and member, Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Research Program, and vice president of clinical affairs, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation; and associate vice provost for clinical and translation science and professor of medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City. For being a pioneer in the field of systemic autoimmunity, significantly advancing the understanding of how autoimmune diseases start and how immune responses evolve. She characterized pre-clinical events in systemic autoimmunity and helped launch the first lupus prevention trial.

Steven Joffe, MD, MPH, Art and Ilene Penn Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy and chair, department of medical ethics and health policy, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia. For being a leading expert in research ethics and developing the most widely used instrument for measuring the quality of research informed consent; re-conceptualized grounding the ethics of human subjects research in scientific experimentation rather than medical care; and building a world-leading medical ethics division.

Camara Phyllis Jones, MD, MPH, PhD, Leverhulme Visiting Professor in Global Health and Social Medicine, King’s College London; adjunct professor, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University; and senior fellow and adjunct associate professor, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta. For contributing novel insights about the epidemiology of health disparities related to racial classifications. She is the preeminent spokesperson on pathways linking racism to poor health outcomes by using innovative, powerful allegories to enable inclusive dialogue and catalyze collective action on this critical public health issue.

Sheena Ann Josselyn, PhD, senior scientist, Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids); and professor, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. For pioneering work that defined the cellular and molecular basis of the memory trace (“engram”) and identified how these processes are disrupted in psychiatric, neurodegenerative, and substance use disorders. Through her discovery of the engram, Josselyn’s work lays the foundation for developing novel, targeted treatments for human disorders.

Katalin Karikó, PhD, professor, University of Szeged, Hungary; and adjunct professor, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. For the development of nucleoside-modified mRNA and the nucleoside-modified mRNA-lipid nanoparticle vaccine platform, the foundations for the first two FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines — pivotal discoveries which opened the door to ending the global pandemic and may revolutionize the delivery of efficacious and safe vaccines, therapeutics, and gene therapies.

Sachin Kheterpal, MD, MBA, Kevin K. Tremper Professor of Anesthesiology, associate chair for strategy and technology, and associate dean for research information technology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor. For being an international leader in anesthesiology informatics and clinical research. His leadership of the Multicenter Perioperative Outcomes Group (MPOG), with data on more than 16 million patients from more than 50 hospitals across multiple countries and dozens of states, has transformed the field through international epidemiologic studies, national personalized quality improvement implementation, pragmatic clinical trials, and data science.

Laura L. Kiessling, PhD, Novartis Professor of ChemistryMassachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. For chemistry-enabled fundamental discoveries regarding protein-glycan interactions pertinent to immunity and inflammation, host-microbe interactions, and human development, and leveraging these findings for new therapeutic strategies.

Jonathan Kipnis, PhD, professor of pathology and immunology, Washington University, St. Louis. For his breakthrough discovery of meningeal lymphatic vessels that drain central nervous system (CNS) fluids into peripheral lymph nodes and serve as a physical connection between the brain and immune system. This finding challenged the prevailing dogma of CNS being an “immune privileged organ.” The implications of this work range from neurodegenerative to neuroinflammatory diseases.

Eugene V. Koonin, PhD, evolutionary genomics group leader and NIH Distinguished Investigator, computational biology branch, National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. For his work on the identification of clusters of homologous genes that created the foundation for systematic study of genome evolution and function. His work illuminated the evolution of microbes and viruses including discovery of adaptive immunity in bacteria and archaea, the basis for the genome editing technology known as CRISPR.

Dimitri Krainc, MD, PhD, Aaron Montgomery Ward Professor and chair, Davee Department of Neurology, and director, Simpson Querrey Center for Neurogenetics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago. For his groundbreaking discoveries in the area of neurodegenerative disorders. Informed by genetic causes of disease, his work has uncovered key lysosomal and mitochondrial mechanisms across different neurodegenerative disorders that has led to pioneering design and development of targeted therapies.

Grace M. Lee, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine; and associate chief medical officer, Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, Stanford, Calif. For being an authority on vaccine policy, vaccine safety, and infectious disease policy. Her expertise has culminated in multiple key leadership roles. Her work on CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has helped guide national decisions, including phasing of COVID-19 vaccine implementation.

Rachel L. Levine, MD, assistant secretary for health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. For her expertise in pediatrics and adolescent medicine, and being the first openly transgender official ever to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. She is a voice for federal-state cooperation, issues of health equity, and has been an outstanding leader in emergency response to addiction and overdose.

Anna Suk-Fong Lok, MD, MBBS, professor of internal medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. For conducting the first systematic study on hepatitis B virus reactivation among patients receiving chemotherapy. She was a key investigator in interferon and nucleos/tide analogue trials leading to their approval for hepatitis B. She led the first study demonstrating that hepatitis C can be cured by orally administered direct-acting antiviral drugs.

Crystal L. Mackall, MD, founding director, Stanford Center for Cancer Cell Therapy, and Ernest and Amelia Gallo Family Professor and professor of pediatrics and medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. For pioneering immune therapies for children’s cancers, and for discovering fundamental principles of human immunology and translating these insights into cutting-edge engineered cell therapies for cancer.

Tippi C. MacKenzie, MD, professor of surgery and director, The Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research; co-director, Center for Maternal-Fetal Precision Medicine; Benioff Distinguished Professor in Children’s Health and John G. Bowes Distinguished Professor in Stem Cell and Tissue Biology, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. For her seminal contributions to the field of fetal medicine by pioneering novel in utero molecular therapies for fetuses with genetic diseases, such as in utero stem cell transplantation for alpha thalassemia major and in utero enzyme replacement therapy for lysosomal storage disorders.

Edward Wile Maibach, PhD, MPH, Distinguished University Professor and founding director, Center for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University, Fairfax, Va. For groundbreaking research on public understanding of climate change, and for leadership in organizing a range of professional communities including physicians and other health professionals, climate scientists, and broadcast meteorologists to educate the public and policymakers about the health risks of climate change and health benefits of climate solutions.

Miguel Marino, PhD, associate professor, departments of family medicine and biostatistics, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Ore. For being a world leader in primary care biostatistics. As co-founder of the Primary Care Latino Equity Research lab, he pioneers novel quantitative approaches to study racial/ethnic subpopulations in electronic health record (EHR) data. His pioneering methods to use EHR data for health equity research have revolutionized this field.

James MacDowell Markert, MD, MPH, FAANS, chair, department of neurosurgery, University of Alabama, Birmingham. For being a world expert on oncolytic viruses, author on first-ever paper of genetically engineered oncolytic viruses, primary author on the first-in-human trial of an oncolytic virus, senior author on first use of an IL12-expressing virus for human glioma, and currently conducting adult and pediatric brain tumor trials.

Peter Wayne Marks, MD, PhD, director, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Silver Spring, Md. For leading the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic response by playing a pivotal role in establishing Operation Warp Speed; establishing FDA guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine development; and establishing FDA’s policy for emergency use authorization and approval of COVID-19 vaccines.

Michelle Kay McGuire, PhD, director and professor, Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow. For being an internationally renowned expert on maternal, dietary, and environmental factors influencing human milk composition. Her research on the milk microbiome changed the paradigm of human milk sterility, with direct implications to maternal and infant health and well-being. She has been a leader in the global effort to provide evidence-based breastfeeding recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michael McWilliams, MD, PhD, Warren Alpert Foundation Professor of Health Care Policy and professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. For being an exceptional scholar, whose seminal research has examined the design and impact of health care payment systems and the organization and quality of health care delivery. Known for his rigor, creativity, and depth, he has produced groundbreaking evidence and substantive insights that have directly influenced federal payment policy, which he now helps design as a senior advisor to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

Paul Salomon Mischel, MD, professor and vice chair for research, department of pathology, and professor, by courtesy, department of neurosurgery, Stanford University School of Medicine; Institute Scholar, Sarafan ChEM-H, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. For his paradigm-shifting research on extrachromosomal DNA, which has opened a new field in cancer biology with profound implications for non-Mendelian disease genetics and the impact of altered genome architecture. His pioneering research has provided seminal insight into the molecular pathogenesis of brain cancer, revealing a landscape of actionable drug targets.

Lisa M. Monteggia, PhD, Barlow Family Director, Vanderbilt Brain Institute, and professor of pharmacology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn. For making seminal contributions to the neurobiology of emotion; pioneering work identifying a causal link between neurotrophin signaling and antidepressant action; and transformative contributions to our understanding of synaptic plasticity mechanisms that underlie the therapeutic effects of psychiatric treatments.

Rachel A. Morello-Frosch, PhD, MPH, professor, School of Public Health and department of environmental science, policy, and management, University of California, Berkeley. For being a renowned expert on structural determinants of environmental health inequities.  She examines this environmental justice question in the context of climate change, air pollution, and environmental chemicals and effects on women’s health, perinatal outcomes, and community health. She is a leader in the application of community-engaged data science.

Margaret P. Moss, PhD, JD, RN, FAAN, professor, faculty of applied science, and nursing director, First Nations House of Learning, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. For exemplary leadership in nursing, law, and Indigenous health inequities as the only American Indian nurse with a Ph.D. and J.D. Director of the First Nation’s House of Learning at University of British Columbia, she co-led the Indigenous Strategic Plan, one of the few in North American universities, launched to a global audience, and published the first nursing text on American Indian Health.

Bhramar Mukherjee, PhD, John D Kalbfleisch Collegiate Professor and chair, department of biostatistics, and professor, department of epidemiology, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor. For seminal contributions to statistical methods in public health and biomedical sciences; pioneering methods for the integration of genes, environment, and disease phenotypes across health conditions; analysis of the COVID-19 epidemic that have informed policy in India; exemplary leadership; and nationally recognized initiatives to diversify the data and statistical science workforce.

Kari C. Nadeau, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. For leadership in studies of climate change and health, drawing on expertise in immunology, genetics, environmental sciences, allergy, and asthma. Her pioneering research that environmental exposures modify immune cell genes linked to health effects is leading to new policies as well as therapeutic and prevention strategies.

Victor Nizet, MD, distinguished professor and vice chair for basic research, department of pediatrics, and distinguished professor, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of California, San Diego. For discovering numerous hallmark virulence mechanisms of bacterial pathogens and key roles of antimicrobial peptides, neutrophils, and macrophages in innate immunity. His translational research has yielded innovative approaches to counteract the threats of antibiotic resistance and sepsis.

John N. Nkengasong, PhD, U.S. global AIDS coordinator and special representative for global health, U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. For making seminal scientific contributions in viral diagnostics. As Africa CDC director, he led Africa’s pandemic preparedness and COVID-19 response, including his vociferous advocacy for vaccine equity. His nomination to lead PEPFAR draws upon his past global health leadership at the U.S. CDC’s Global AIDS Program.

Akinlolu Ojo, MD, PhD, MBA, executive dean, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City. For identifying major racial disparities in kidney transplantation. He established a national donor assistance program that has supported more than 10,000 live organ donors. Ojo established a continent-wide research consortium conducting clinical and translational research in more than 14,000 sub-Saharan Africans. As dean, he increased students underrepresented in medicine and the diversity of medical school matriculants by 83%.

Saad B. Omer, MBBS, MPH, PhD, director, Yale Institute for Global Health; Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases), Yale School of Medicine; professor of epidemiology of microbial diseases, Yale School of Public Health; and adjunct professor, Yale School of Nursing, New Haven, Conn. For using high-impact science to inform and change vaccine policy and clinical vaccine recommendations in multiple countries. He conducted seminal studies on vaccine refusal, maternal immunization, and COVID-19, and he used public scholarship to advocate for vaccines and served in senior policy/advisory roles for the World Health Organization, Gavi, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Anthony E. Oro, MD, PhD, Eugene and Gloria Bauer Professor of Dermatology and co-director, Stanford Center for Definitive and Curative Medicine and Stanford Maternal and Child Health Research Institute, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. For solidifying the first link between Hedgehog signaling and human cancer and building chromatin maps identifying how environmental factors drive tumor epigenetic plasticity and drug-resistance. He built developmental chromatin maps to uncover disease mechanisms and enable clinical manufacturing of pluripotent cell-derived tissues for incurable skin diseases.

José A. Pagán, PhD, professor and chair, department of public health policy and management, School of Global Public Health, New York University, New York City. For leadership in aligning health care delivery, payment, and social systems to address health equity and specifically for understanding ripple effects of uninsurance in U.S. communities. He has strengthened capacity to measure and improve health equity, including under pandemic conditions, helping guide future practices nationally.

Vikram Patel, MBBS, PhD, The Pershing Square Professor of Global Health, Harvard Medical School, and professor, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston. For scholarship on the burden and determinants of mental health problems in resource-poor settings — and on the deployment of community resources for their prevention, diagnosis, and care — has transformed policy and practice globally and driven the emergence of “global mental health” as a vibrant field of research, training, implementation, and advocacy.

Monica Elizabeth Peek, MD, MPH, MSc, Ellen H. Block Professor of Health Justice, department of medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago. For international leadership in reducing health disparities, through research on how structural racism and the social determinants of health perpetuate disparities among African Americans. Her cutting-edge research has informed national guidelines and best practices regarding shared decision-making between patients and physicians and community-engaged strategies to improve health among African Americans.

Christine A. Petersen, DVM, PhD, FASTMH, professor, department of epidemiology, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City. For leadership in the epidemiology, immunity, and transmission of emerging pathogens. Her groundbreaking research in vaccine development and computational modeling have delineated critical determinants of vector-borne disease protection of people and animals to lessen the burden of emerging zoonotic infectious diseases across health settings.

Katherine S. Pollard, PhD, director, Gladstone Institute of Data Science and Biotechnology, Gladstone Institutes; professor, University of California, San Francisco; and investigator, Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, San Francisco. For discovering Human Accelerated Regions and demonstrating that these fast-evolving developmental enhancers regulate psychiatric disease genes uniquely in humans. Her open-source software for gene expression, comparative genomics, and microbiomes are used worldwide.

Kornelia Polyak, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, medical oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston. For documenting the clinical and functional relevance of intratumoral cellular heterogeneity.  She has convincingly shown, using novel technologies and experimental models, that many other cell types besides the neoplastic cells are responsible for the biological and physiological characteristics of any individual tumor.

John Quackenbush, PhD, Henry Pickering Walcott Professor of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics and chair, department of biostatistics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston. For being a pioneer in computational and systems biology and reproducible research with a record of continuous innovation. His recent work bridges the gap between genetics and gene regulation, giving unprecedented insight into human health and disease including how a person’s sex influences disease risk and response to therapy.

Megan L. Ranney, MD, MPH, FACEP, Warren Alpert Endowed Professor of Emergency Medicine and deputy dean, School of Public Health, and director, Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health, Brown University, Providence, R.I. For recognition as a national public health leader and communicator who has brought deeper understanding of public health challenges and who has changed public health paradigms through technology-based interventions to reduce violence (particularly firearm injury), mental illness, substance use, and infectious disease risk.

Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, Hugh Jackson Morgan Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry and chair, department of medicine, and physician-in-chief, Vanderbilt University Hospital, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn. For pioneering basic science investigation of kidney cancer and her work revealing the biological diversity of these tumors, in addition to uncovering novel mechanisms of cancer promotion paving the way for new therapeutics. She has created national mentorship networks and forged pathways for physician-scientist recognition and career impact.

Marc Elliot Rothenberg, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics and director, division of allergy and immunology, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine; and director, Cincinnati Center for Eosinophilic Disorders, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati. For being recognized as a thought leader in allergy who uncovers mechanisms and then new therapies, contributing to a new class of drugs (anti-eosinophil therapy) and elucidating an allergen sensing mechanism.

Norman E. Sharpless, MD, professor of medicine, cancer policy and innovation, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill. For being a highly regarded cancer researcher with significant contributions to advance our understanding of cellular aging, circular RNAs, and the cell cycle.

Krishna V. Shenoy, PhD, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Hong Seh and Vivian W.M. Lim Professor, departments of electrical engineering and, by courtesy, bioengineering, neurobiology and neurosurgery, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. For making seminal contributions both to basic neuroscience and to translational and clinical research. His work has shown how networks of motor cortical neurons operate as dynamical systems, and he has developed new technologies to provide new means of restoring movement and communication to people with paralysis.

Yang Shi, PhD, professor and director of epigenetics, Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre, University of Oxford, Oxford, England; and member, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. For making the groundbreaking discovery that histone methylation, a central epigenetic mechanism long considered irreversible, is in fact reversible. He identified the first histone demethylase and subsequently many others. His elegant mechanistic discoveries revolutionized the epigenetics field and have had far-reaching impact on basic and translational research.

Ida Sim, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and computational precision health, and UCSF director, UCSF/UC Berkeley Joint Program in Computational Precision Health, University of California, San Francisco. For her clinical expertise and innovative methods supporting a modern electronic infrastructure that bridges mobile computing with institutional records and clinical trials data. She has championed and created groundbreaking technical and policy architectures and tools, enriching care processes with patient experience information and accelerating discovery through open data sharing.

Mario Sims, PhD, FAHA, professor of social medicine, population and public health, School of Medicine, University of California, Riverside. For pioneering work documenting that perceived racial discrimination, especially if highly burdensome, predicted both higher baseline prevalence of hypertension in African Americans and a higher incidence of hypertension eight to 10 years later.

Gwendolyn Sowa, MD, PhD, professor and chair, department of physical medicine and rehabilitation, University of Pittsburgh; and director, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Rehabilitation Institute, Pittsburgh. For research that follows an integrated and transdisciplinary approach to exploring the biology of intervertebral disc degeneration and its relationship to back pain. She explores treatments, including motion-based therapies and biologic interventions, influencing inflammation and mechanobiology of the musculoskeletal systems, with particular emphasis on the spine. This work, “Low Back Pain: Biological, Biomechanical and Behavioral Phenotypes,” recently received a Mechanistic Research Center grant from NIH/NIAMS.

Sohail F. Tavazoie, MD, PhD, Leon Hess Professor, Rockefeller University, New York City. For seminal studies that have uncovered molecular and cellular processes governing cancer metastasis including the discovery of a hereditary basis for metastasis, and advancing novel anti-metastatic therapies into clinical testing.

Sally Temple, PhD, scientific director, Neural Stem Cell Institute, Regenerative Research Foundation, Rensselaer, N.Y. For using novel clonal analyses of mammalian forebrain progenitors to reveal stem cells in the central nervous system and discovering that internal counting mechanisms govern progenitor cell divisions.  In recent years she pioneered approaches in stem cell biology for modeling and developing therapies for retinal and brain neurodegenerative disorders.

Alan Thevenet N. Tita, MD, PhD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director, Center for Women’s Reproductive Health, associate dean for global and women’s health, Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham. For his work as an innovative and impactful perinatal epidemiologist and clinical trialist, who leads large, collaborative, multi-center national and international trials and observational studies that have shifted practice and policy and improved the quality of national and global obstetric care.

Bruce J. Tromberg, PhD, director, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. For his leadership in biomedical engineering and the NIH Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Technology (RADx Tech) initiative. He helped guide the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by engaging government, academia, and the R&D innovation/entrepreneurship community to increase SARS-COV-2 test capacity and performance in home, point-of-care, and lab settings at unprecedented speed, scale, and impact.

Chien-Wen Tseng, MD, MSEE, MPH, professor, department of family medicine and community health, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, Honolulu. For making seminal contributions to ensure medication access for 1 in 4 Americans unable to afford their prescriptions. Her work on Medicare Part D drug benefits (11 JAMA-affiliated manuscripts) supported 2020 legislation to redesign Part D to protect 48 million patients from losing coverage mid-year.

David A. Tuveson, MD, PhD, FAACR, Roy J. Zuckerberg Professor and director, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Cancer Center, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. For his transformative leadership in pancreatic cancer biology. His work has led to the development of powerful pancreatic cancer models, which has been fundamental to preclinical studies of understanding targeted therapy and treatment of pancreatic cancer. He most recently has been a leader in organoid-based cancer models.

Omaida C. Velázquez, MD, FACS, David Kimmelman Endowed Chair in Vascular and Endovascular Surgery and professor of surgery, departments of biochemistry and molecular biology and of radiology, and chair, DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery, Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami; and surgeon-in-chief, University of Miami Health System and Jackson Memorial Hospital Health System, Miami. For pioneering research that identified E-selectin as a membrane-bound adhesion molecule that induces pro-angiogenesis and healing, in a vascular medicine field where previously only soluble factors had been considered therapeutic candidates. Her groundbreaking work ushered a paradigm-shifting platform to reverse tissue damage by arterial occlusion or diabetes.

Jennifer Webster-Cyriaque, DDS, PhD, deputy director, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and NIH laboratory chief, Viral Oral Infections in Immunosuppression and Cancer, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health; and professor emeritus, departments of dentistry and of microbiology and immunology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Bethesda, Md. For making seminal contributions to our understanding of the role of virus-host interaction in oral disease. Most notably, she showed that oral Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) permissive infection was a lytic and transforming infection. Her paradigm-shifting work described oral Kaposi’s sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV) replication and oral iatrogenic Kaposi’s development.

Drew Weissman, MD, PhD, Roberts Family Professor in Vaccine Research and director, Penn Institute for RNA Innovation, department of medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. For discovering the technology of modification of mRNA for vaccine design, which has launched a new era of vaccine development. The modified mRNA vaccine design has been used in both the BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines and has revolutionized the field of vaccine development.

Ruth Enid Zambrana, PhD, distinguished university professor, Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, University of Maryland, College Park. For pioneering research that has transformed our understanding of the social determinants of minority women’s health. A leading authority on Hispanic health, she continues to do path-breaking work on the health of underrepresented faculty, strategies to increase underrepresented scholars in the health professions and the translation of research into policy.

Newly elected international members and their election citations are:

Pedro L. Alonso, MD, PhD, professor of global health, faculty of medicine and health sciences, and consultant, department of international health, Hospital Clinic – University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain. For his role as a visionary leader in global health: as director of the WHO Global Malaria Program he leads policy development and implementation including recommendation for use of the first malaria vaccine. For establishing key research centers in Mozambique and Barcelona, and for conducting groundbreaking research in malaria prevention.

Peter John Campbell, MBChB, PhD, chief, Cancer, Aging, And Somatic Mutation Program, Wellcome Sanger Institute, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom. For being a pioneer in cancer genomics and tumor evolution. He has led a major effort to define the signatures of somatic mutations in many cancer types, defined patterns of selection operative during cellular transformation, and identified genes involved in specific tumors as they form, progress, and metastasize.

Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, MA, DPhil, head, climate change and health unit, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. For global leadership in creating quantitative estimates of the overall health impacts of climate change and building capacity to address climate and health in more than 30 low- and middle-income countries. His work informed World Health Assembly resolutions, and the first WHO global conferences on health and climate.

Bart De Strooper, MD, PhD, director, UK Dementia Research Institute; and professor, KU Leuven, Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie, and University College London, London, United Kingdom. For his work in understanding the mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease in an unrelenting search for therapeutic targets that can help patients. He has discovered gamma-secretase and shown how presenilin regulates Notch signaling. He has developed a cellular theory and novel humanized disease models to explore polygenetic risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Jan Deprest, MD, PhD, FRCOG, professor in obstetrics and gynaecology, University Hospitals Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, and University College London, United Kingdom. For his landmark translational studies through the Eurofoetus consortium, which led to the development of a percutaneous method for fetoscopic occlusion of the fetal trachea. His work has changed the standard of care worldwide for fetal diseases such as twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome and congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

Connie J. Eaves, PhD, distinguished scientist, Terry Fox Laboratory, BC Cancer Research Institute; professor and distinguished university scholar, departments of medical genetics, medicine, pathology and laboratory medicine and the School of Biomedical Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. For profoundly impacting our knowledge of hematopoietic and mammary stem cells in both murine and human systems. Her focus on single cell stem cell analyses is widely regarded as seminal, leading to improved purification and detailed characterization of what makes a stem cell a stem cell.

Gagandeep Kang, MD, PhD, FRCPath, FAAM, FASc, FNASc, FNA, FFPH, FRS, professor, division of gastrointestinal sciences, Christian Medical College, Vellore, India. For her outstanding contributions to understand and improve child health through her research in enteric infectious diseases and vaccinology over decades benefiting children in India and low- and middle-income countries, and more recently to vaccine science, vaccination policy, and communication during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Farees (Fary) Khan, AM, MD, MBBS, FAFRM (RACP), consultant physician in physical and rehabilitation medicine and director, Rehabilitation Royal Melbourne Hospital; professional fellow, department of medicine, dentistry, and health sciences, University of Melbourne; and lead rehabilitation physician, PeterMac Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Australia. For organizing grassroots-level responses of underresourced countries in assisting persons with disabilities, who are inequitably affected by climate change-related disasters. As a top rehabilitation scientist, she is an architect of the National Rehabilitation Medicine Strategy for the Royal Australian College of Physicians.

Robert James Mash, MBChB, DCH, DRCOG, FRCGP, FCFP (SA), PhD, distinguished professor and executive head, family and emergency medicine, and head of division, family medicine and primary care, faculty of medicine and health sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa. For being internationally known as “the leading family medicine researcher” in sub-Saharan Africa, and being recognized as a lifetime honorary member of the World Organization of Family Doctors, and for his “extraordinary contribution to medicine” by the South African Medical Association. He is president of the South African Academy of Family Physicians.

Marleen Temmerman, MD, MPH, OB/GYN, PhD, director, Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, Aga Khan University, Nairobi, Kenya; and founding director, International Centre for Reproductive Health, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. For being one of the penholders of the U.N. Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health, founding director of the International Center for Reproductive Health at Ghent University, with sister research organizations in Kenya and Mozambique, and a collaborative academic network of 32 universities and seven NGOs worldwide, and director of the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, Aga Khan University, East Africa.

Click here to view the full article on the National Academy of Medicine website.

Laser-focused on science education

Desiré Whitmore, also known as LaserChick, is a physicist and advocate for underrepresented groups in STEM

by Kristin Baird Rattini | UCI Magazine, Fall 2022 | October 12, 2022

Who is LaserChick? Is she a tattoo artist? The latest TikTok star? A new Marvel hero?

Desiré Whitmore may not be a hero in the comic-book sense, but the self-described Blaxican American physicist whose moniker is LaserChick is indeed an inspiring role model for children – especially girls – from underrepresented communities who are interested in STEM careers. In her role as a staff physicist educator for the Teacher Institute of San Francisco’s Exploratorium, Whitmore, who earned a Ph.D. at UCI in 2011, amplifies her impact on the next generation of learners by developing and teaching hands-on activities that middle and high school teachers can use to spark their students’ interest in and excitement about science.

In a photo on Whitmore’s website,, she points to herself and holds up a sign saying: “This is what a scientist looks like.” It’s something she couldn’t have imagined while growing up in small, rural towns in the Antelope Valley. Resources were scarce in both her family of eight kids and the local school district. The admitted math and band nerd fed her immense curiosity by taking things apart: the telephone, TV, vacuum cleaner, Nintendo console, VCR. “I just did it for fun because I wanted to know how it all worked,” Whitmore says.

After community college and then getting a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at UCLA, she came to UCI to earn a master’s and a doctorate in chemical and material physics. “I thought, ‘This is my dream: chemistry and physics together,’” she says. “I got to pick and choose classes in physics, engineering, chemistry and math and make this really cool Jenga tower of a Ph.D. for myself.”

Whitmore’s obsession with quantum mechanics drew her to the labs of two of her chemistry professors – Eric Potma and Ara Apkarian – at the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Chemistry at the Space-Time Limit. “As soon as I saw the giant laser systems in Ara’s lab, I was hooked,” she says.

At a weeklong training session for those laser systems, she pressed the instructor to share everything he knew. “By the end, I was an expert not just in those systems but in lasers in general,” Whitmore says. For her doctoral project, she built femtosecond (one-quadrillionth of a second) lasers to study single molecules vibrating in real time. “The ability to control laser pulses at that level felt really incredible,” she says.

While she relished working with lasers, Whitmore felt lonely in the lab. She volunteered to teach lasers and optics to children at outreach events. She shared her email address with kids interested in learning more but realized she needed an easier-to-remember name. Her LaserChick identity was born.

In 2011, she won the prestigious University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue her laser research at UC Berkeley, where she built attosecond (onequintillionth of a second) laser systems to study electrons traveling across metal and semiconductor surfaces. As the postdoc neared its end in 2014, Whitmore struggled to figure out her path. “I was applying to jobs where I would keep playing with lasers, but they wouldn’t stretch any of my other muscles: my science communication, my teaching or my curiosity,” she says. “I realized that teaching and outreach were really what I loved doing.”

She read the self-help book What Color Is Your Parachute? Three of the four dream careers it recommended for her were spot on: teacher, science movie advisor and museum scientist. “I didn’t even know ‘museum scientist’ was a job,” Whitmore says.

Immediately, she leaped on an opening as a science curriculum specialist in the Learning Design Group at UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science. The group had just contracted with the company Amplify to develop its namesake K-8 science curriculum based on newly released educational standards. “It was so fun,” Whitmore says. “I realized: ‘This is what I want.’”

She’s most proud of her eighth grade unit on light waves, which has been adopted in nearly 40 states, in such huge urban districts as Chicago and Seattle, and countless smaller regions – including in the Antelope Valley. “I’m teaching children in an area where my own education wasn’t amazing,” she says. “But I’m helping to change that.”

In 2018, after two years of teaching about lasers and photonics technology at Irvine Valley College, Whitmore seized the opportunity to combine two dream jobs into one at San Francisco’s Exploratorium, a public learning laboratory dedicated to exploring the world through science, art and human perception. As a staff physicist educator in the Exploratorium’s Teacher Institute, she educates middle and high school teachers on how to relay science in an inquiry driven manner and use students’ own curiosity to help them learn science.

Whitmore draws inspiration from the Exploratorium’s hundreds of hands-on exhibits to create physics-centered Science Snacks, short activities that employ inexpensive everyday materials to bring explorations of natural phenomena into the classroom and home. For example, the “Laser Speckle” activity uses a frosted lightbulb and dollar-store laser pointer to demonstrate the phenomenon of wave interference, which appears differently to people who are nearsighted, are farsighted or have 20/20 vision. The “Laser Jell-O” activity uses a laser pointer and gelatin to demonstrate differences in light absorption, refraction and reflection.

The accessible nature of the hundreds of Science Snacks available online made them invaluable learning tools during the COVID-19 pandemic, when remote learning limited the materials that students had to draw on and highlighted the equity gaps common across education. “You have this huge diversity of students with different experiences,” Whitmore says. “How do you practice what’s known today as culturally relevant science, incorporating who the student is and how they learn into your teaching?”

She cites a Science Snack called “Blind Spot,” which teaches about physical blind spots but opens the door to a much deeper conversation: “I use it in an interactive way to say, ‘Everyone has a physical blind spot as well as social blind spots. You might not think about them, but they exist. You and I see the world differently. Valuing all of those perspectives is what makes science richer.’”

LaserChick will keep doing her invaluable part to enrich science education and foster interest among the next generation of learners. “I’m helping people be curious and ask the questions they need to ask to understand the world around them,” Whitmore says. “If I can do that for 1,000 kids, that’s great. They’ll grow up to be informed citizens. But if I can teach 1,000 teachers, that’s an army of students who get to learn science. I’m making a much larger impact than I ever thought possible.”

Click here to read the full article in UCI Magazine.

UCI School of Medicine From the office of the dean

Dear colleagues,

I​’m pleased to announce that Anand K. Ganesan, MD, PhD, has accepted the role of associate dean for physician-scientist development, effective September 1, 2022.

This new role is a key position supporting Daniela M. Bota, MD, PhD, vice dean of clinical research. In his new role, Dr. Ganesan will be responsible for:
Creating a physician-scientist training program (analogous to the UCLA STAR Program) that combines clinical fellowships or residency training with formal advanced research training

  • Coordinating with clinical departments to develop and submit training grant applications
  • Collaborating with the Department of Medical Education and clinical departments to develop funded research programs for medical students (e.g., summer research projects)
  • Identifying gaps in the physician-scientist pipeline and working with stakeholders to increase opportunities for research training and support for grant submissions
  • Increasing the number of K award applications for junior scientists, including those faculty members that are part of the Physician-Scientist Training Program (PSTP) administered by the UCI School of Medicine Research Development Unit (RDU)

Dr. Ganesan is a UCI home-grown physician-scientist. He applied for a K award shortly after coming to UCI in 2006, and has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 2008.

Dr. Ganesan created a physician-scientist training program in the Department of Dermatology, which matched its first candidate into the residency in 2016. To date, Dr. Ganesan has mentored four physician-scientists, two of whom obtained KL2 career development awards, one of whom obtained an NIH K23 career development award, and another who is currently preparing their career development award application.

Along with the training program, Dr. Ganesan also created a non-ACGME fellowship to support physician-scientist training in the Department of Dermatology and is currently the primary investigator of a T32 training grant that has one dedicated slot for physician-scientists. Dr. Ganesan also has a successful track record of mentoring physician-scientists both at UCI and around the country. In addition, he currently serves as the chair of an NIH study section that specifically reviews physician-scientist career development awards.

Dr. Ganesan’s research focuses on understanding how melanocytes respond to environmental cues (UV irradiation, inflammation) in order to maintain normal homeostasis, and determining how this homeostasis is disrupted in diseases such as melanoma and vitiligo. His work spans from basic to clinical research as he recently discovered a new class of drugs to treat cancer and also manages clinical trials for patients with vitiligo.

Dr. Ganesan received his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin. He then completed a residency in internal medicine at St. Mary Medical Center – Long Beach, as well as a residency in dermatology and a physician-scientist training program fellowship at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. He completed his doctoral studies in microbiology and molecular genetics at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Ganesan on this new appointment.​

Michael J. Stamos, MD
Dean, UCI School of Medicine

Click here to view the full message from Dean Michael Stamos.

Founder of UCI Beckman Laser Institute Dies

Known for helping pioneer laser nanosurgery

By Kaitlin Aquino, Orange County Business Journal

UCI said biomedical laser researcher and professor Michael Berns, who founded the university’s Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic, died on Aug. 13. He was 79.

“He was way ahead of his time,” the current Beckman Laser Institute Director, Thomas Milner, said of Berns, adding that he was “creative, tenacious, complex and kind.”

Berns was known for his innovative work using “laser scissors and tweezers” to manipulate cells, university officials said. He was the first person to perform subcellular surgery on chromosomes and helped pioneer laser nanosurgery, according to SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. He eventually earned the nickname “the father of laser microbeams,” and received a gold medal from the organization for his work with lasers.

Berns joined the UCI department of developmental and cell biology in 1972, which he later chaired. Five years later, he won a National Institutes of Health grant to set up UCI’s Laser Microbeam Program, also known as LAMP, which eventually became the Beckman Laser Institute. In 1994, Berns received the UCI Medal, the school’s highest honor, according to university officials. He retired in 2020.

His scientific work was “highly impactful and did not slow throughout his career,” UCI surgery and biomedical engineering professor Elliot Botvinick, who worked with Berns during his postdoctoral research told the university. “His work has been cited over 26,000 times, spanning the fields of developmental biology, DNA repair, mechanobiology, the cytoskeleton, fertility, preservation of endangered species, and immunology, to just name a few.”

Read more on the Orange County Business Journal website.

Remembering Michael Berns

Inspired by a ruby beam of light, the Beckman Laser Institute co-founder changed science, medicine – and UCI

by Roy Rivenburg, UCI | August 16, 2022

Biomedical laser pioneer Michael Berns, who co-founded and directed UCI’s storied Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic, died Saturday, Aug. 13. He was 79.

Renowned for his groundbreaking work using “laser scissors and tweezers” to manipulate cells, among other innovations, Berns was also a painter, avocado farmer and spy thriller novelist.

“He was way ahead of his time,” said the Beckman lab’s current director, Thomas Milner, who described Berns as “creative, tenacious, complex and kind.”

Born in December 1942 in Burlington, Vermont, Berns originally dreamed of being a veterinarian. He detoured into lasers while studying biology at Cornell University.

“It was 1966 and all I knew about lasers was that Goldfinger was going to slice James Bond in half,” he wrote for a conference presentation that was to be delivered later this month in San Diego. “Then one of my professors at Cornell told me that the department had purchased a small ruby laser but did not know what to do with it.”

Berns figured out an answer – and then some.

After finishing his Ph.D. in 1968, he became the first person to perform subcellular surgery of chromosomes, helped pioneer laser nanosurgery and eventually earned the nickname “the father of laser microbeams,” according to SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, which awarded Berns its gold medal this year for his lifetime achievements.

In 1972, after teaching zoology at the University of Michigan, he joined UCI’s Department of Developmental and Cell Biology, which he later chaired, and enchanted students. “His class was so much fun,” said Sari Mahon, who first studied under Berns in 1974 and now serves as assistant director of the Beckman Laser Institute. “He was an incredibly dedicated mentor and teacher.”

His signature accomplishment – the Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic – began taking shape in 1979, when Berns won an NIH grant to set up the Laser Microbeam Program, better known as LAMP, at UCI.

“After spending a year building the LAMP system — an instrument with a tunable wavelength laser microbeam and a wide range of energies and exposure durations — Berns sent out invitations to every CEO of medical and biotech companies in Orange County,” according to SPIE. “To his surprise, Arnold Beckman (then 80 years old and still running Beckman Instruments in Fullerton)” showed up at the lab on a rainy morning.

Beckman, an influential scientist and businessman whose 1934 invention of the pH meter launched his company, was transfixed by LAMP’s potential.

His subsequent investment in “a young professor, an unproven university, and an emerging technology” – as one history put it – led to the institute’s debut in 1986, with Berns as the lab’s founding director – and its heart and soul.

Even today, nearly two decades after Berns stepped down from running the center, it’s difficult to separate the man from the institute, Milner said.

The walls are decorated with his paintings and the building itself bears his imprint, said Elliot Botvinick, a UCI professor of surgery and biomedical engineering who did his postdoctoral work under Berns: “The architectural design speaks to Michael’s ability to look decades into the future. The building was one of just a few in the world combining a medical clinic with basic molecular biology, biophotonics and engineering, all along the same hallway. His vision was to have technologies invented in laboratories, matured and ultimately brought to the clinic. … Many of the technologies were commercialized.”

Scientists came from around the world for a residency at the institute, Botvinick added. And, in turn, Berns traveled the globe sharing his expertise.

On one trip, to the Soviet Union in 1979 to deliver lectures on laser biomedicine at Moscow State University, he was interrogated by KGB agents for 12 hours after being caught smuggling Jewish prayer books inside a false-bottomed suitcase. (He carried the contraband as a favor to student activists at UCI.) The incident later inspired a character in his 2021 spy novel, The Tinderbox Plot.

“As a longtime fan of thrillers, I imagined these interrogators reporting to a boss like Karla in John le Carré’s novel, Smiley’s People,” he recently wrote. “After the Jewish bible bust, I was never allowed to return to the Soviet Union, but my interest in the culture, politics and people in Russia never abated. Nor did my fascination with spy novels, and eventually, I decided to write one.”

But lasers remain his crowning legacy. Berns’ scientific achievements, which are too legion to catalog, were “highly impactful and did not slow throughout his career,” Botvinick noted. “His work has been cited over 26,000 times, spanning the fields of developmental biology, DNA repair, mechanobiology, the cytoskeleton, fertility, preservation of endangered species, and immunology, to just name a few.”

In 1994, he received the UCI Medal, the university’s highest honor.

Berns, who retired in 2020 as the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Professor at UCI (he also was an adjunct professor of bioengineering at UC San Diego), is survived by his son, Gregory, a dog psychology expert, M.D. and Distinguished Professor of neuroeconomics at Emory University; his daughter, Tammy Karn, an English professor at Mt. San Antonio College; and two granddaughters.

Read more on UCI News.