Carnegie Mellon University

Alan Russell

Alan Russell

Highmark Distinguished Career Professor, Chemical Engineering
Director, Disruptive Health Technology Institute


Professor Russell joined CMU as the Highmark Distinguished Career Professor in 2012 to launch and direct the Disruptive Health Technology Institute. He joined the Department of Chemical Engineering in 2017.  Prior to coming to CMU Professor Russell was the Founding Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Chairman of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Russell has founded three biotechnology companies and was also the Founding President of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society. Dr. Russell was the longest serving member of the Science Board to the Food and Drug Administration and Chaired the 10-year scientific review of the Center for Devices and Radiologic Health, publishing the key “Protecting the core of CDRH regulatory science in the face of financial and strategic threats” report. Dr. Russell has served many scientific roles for the Department of Defense, including working for the Defense Health Board and being the founding Co-Director of the Armed Forces Institute for Regenerative Medicine.


Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry, Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London - 1987


For the last 25 years, the Russell laboratory has been discovering what can be achieved by exploiting the rich interface of chemistry, biology and materials. Dr. Russell’s work has impacted fields as diverse as chemical and polymer synthesis to tissue engineering and homeland defense. Dr. Russell has pioneered how to make polymers from enzymes and how to incorporate enzymes into bulk polymers. In a series of discoveries Dr. Russell’s laboratory has found how to meld the synthetic and biological worlds.

Research Websites

Russell Laboratory
Disruptive Health Technology Institute

Awards and Honors

  • Honorary Professor, Nanjing Tech University, 2017
  • ESWP President’s Award for Engineering Excellence, 2014
  • Founding International Fellow, TERMIS, 2012
  • TERMIS Lifetime Achievement Award, 2012
  • Ladies Hospital Aid Society Doctor of Distinction Award, 2011
  • Carnegie Science Center Award of Excellence in Advanced Materials, 2011
  • American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineers, Chair, College of Fellows, 2011
  • American Chemical Society, Pittsburgh Award, 2010
  • Rolling Stone Top 100 People Who Will Change America, 2009


Selected Publications

S. Carmali, H. Murata, C. Cummings, K. Matyjaszewski, A.J. Russell, “Polymer-Based Protein Engineering: Synthesis and Characterization of Armored, High Graft Density Polymer-Protein Conjugates,” Methods Enzymol, 590:347-380 (2017)

W.P. Clafshenkel, H. Murata, J. Andersen, Y.Creeger, R.R. Koepsel, A.J. Russell, “The Effect of Covalently-Attached ATRP Synthesized Polymers on Membrane Stability and Cytoprotection in Human Erythrocytes,” PLOS ONE, DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0157641 (2016)

C.S. Cummings, H. Murata, K. Matyjaszewski, A.J. Russell, “Polymer-Based Protein Engineering Enables Molecular Dissolution of Chymotrypsin in Acetonitrile,” ACS Macro Letters 5 (4), 493-497 (2016)

A. Campbell, M. Jose, S. Marx, S. Cornelius R. Koepsel, M.F. Islam, A.J. Russell, “Improved Power Density of an Enzymatic Biofuel Cell with Fibrous Supports of High Curvature,” RSC Advances, 6 (12), 10150-10158 (2016)

S. D’Souza, H. Murata, V.J. Moncy, S. Askarova, Y. Yantsen, J. Andersen, C. Edington, W.P. Clafshenkel, R.R. Koepsel, A.J. Russell, “Engineering of Cell Membranes with a Bisphosphonate-Containing Polymer Using ATRP Synthesis for Bone Targeting,” Biomaterials, 35 (35), 9447-9458 (2014)

Full Publications