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Sept. 4: Yu-Li Wang To Lead Innovative Biomedical Engineering Department


Chriss Swaney                   

Carnegie Mellon Names Yu-Li Wang To Lead
Innovative Biomedical Engineering Department

Yu-Li WangPITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University has named Yu-Li Wang to head its growing Biomedical Engineering Department. Wang, whose appointment began Aug. 1, succeeds Todd Przybycien who has returned to the faculty after serving five years as department head.
Wang received his Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University in 1980 and has been a professor in the Department of Physiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass., since 1997.
"I am honored to lead such an outstanding and innovative department," said Wang, whose research focuses on mechanical forces and interactions within cells — a microscopic blob of jelly that represents the basic functional unit of the body.
Understanding cell mechanics requires seamless integration of multiple disciplines including biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics. Such interdisciplinary research has been Wang's passion because of his extensive background in physics and the natural sciences. Using innovative optical tools, Wang's research has emphasized how and when biological processes take place inside the living cell.
In a remarkable miniaturization of life's functions, the cell moves, grows, reacts, protects itself and even reproduces. To sustain this varied existence, it utilizes a tightly organized system of parts much like a tiny industrial complex. It is that complex of living forces within the cell that Wang wants researchers to study. He views such understanding as a pre-requisite for effective engineering.  
Already, Carnegie Mellon's biomedical engineers are poking and probing cells with a comprehensive research portfolio that extends to developing new bioimaging tools, artificial bones and cardiovascular devices for heart trauma patients.
"Dr. Wang is a world renowned scientist and an excellent addition to the leadership team in the College of Engineering and Carnegie Mellon," said University Professor Pradeep K. Khosla, dean of Carnegie Mellon's College of Engineering.
In the past five years, the Biomedical Engineering Department has grown from less than 20 students to more than 180. That growth is also reflected in increased industry demand for biomedical engineers.
The number of biomedical jobs will increase by 31.4 percent through 2010, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Labor Department.  That growth is premised on an aging U.S. population and increased demand for improved medical devices.
"The main mission of our Biomedical Engineering Department is to provide a bridge to help meld basic research with cutting-edge technologies to produce new medical and industrial applications," Wang said. "I also plan to design a new training environment that teaches students how to handle multiple research challenges, and how to collaborate in global, multidisciplinary teams."
The Taiwanese-born researcher has published more than 100 papers in top journals, co-edited three books and has given more than 70 talks around the world over the past 10 years.
Prior to coming to Carnegie Mellon, Wang was a staff scientist and senior scientist at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, Colo., from 1982 to 1987, and a senior scientist and principal scientist at the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research at Shrewsbury, Mass., from 1987 to 1997.