DALLAS – 01 February 2022 – Samuel Achilefu, Ph.D., nationally recognized for experience in molecular imaging and its application in the treatment of human diseases, has been selected as the inaugural president to launch a new Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at the UT Southwestern Medical Center. He begins his new responsibilities on February 1st.
Dr. Achilefu’s construction of the biomedical engineering department and subsequent recruitment of faculty will complement a recent announcement by the $ 120 million, five-story Texas Instruments Biomedical Engineering and Sciences Building, which opened its doors in November to host joint programs. of biomedical engineering from UT Southwestern and UT Dallas.
“With his demonstrated success in innovative research and clinical impact, Dr. Achilefu brings the leadership and vision needed to launch our new department that will advance transformative research in biomedical engineering and related fields at UT Southwestern.” said WP Andrew Lee, MD, Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, Provost and Dean of UT Southwestern Medical School, who holds the Atticus James Gill, MD Chair in Medical Sciences.
Dr. Samuel Achilefu
Samuel Achilefu, Ph.D
Inventor with 65 U.S. patents and recently elected to the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Achilefu has developed cancer-hungry materials and a wearable goggle system for cancer imaging that highlights cancer cells, providing real-time guidance to surgeons in the operating room to ensure complete removal of cancerous tissue. In addition to image-guided cancer surgery, Dr. Achilefu’s research interests include portable imaging devices and nanotechnology. His pivotal work in the use of innovative fluorescent materials for cancer imaging led to the clinical translation of a method for identifying and treating most types of cancer, particularly breast cancers.
Born and raised in Nigeria, Dr. Achilefu studied chemistry and materials science at the University of Nancy in France as a French government scholar before completing postdoctoral training in oxygen transport in biological systems and hematological sciences at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
Dr. Achilefu, who has published more than 300 scientific articles, was appointed by the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services in 2020 to serve on the National Advisory Council on Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. He is a member of the National Academy of Inventors, the Royal Society of Medicine, the International Society for Optics and Photonics Engineers-SPIE, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry and The Optical Society of America (Optica). Dr. Achilefu’s national and international awards include the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program’s Distinguished Investigator Award, The Academy for Radiology & Biomedical Imaging Research, and the International Society for Optics and Photonics Engineers-SPIE’s Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award.
Dr. Achilefu, a CPRIT scholar, received a Recruitment of Established Investigators Awards from the CPRIT, which awarded $ 2.9 billion in grants to Texas research institutions and organizations across its academic research, prevention and development programs. of products.
Prior to joining the 2,800-member UTSW faculty, Dr. Achilefu served more than 20 years at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dr. Achilefu, Professor of Radiology Michel M. Ter-Pogossian as well as Professor of Medicine, Biomedical and Biochemical Engineering and Molecular Biophysics at the Mallinckrodt Institute, was Director of the Washington University Molecular Imaging Center and the Center for Multiple Myeloma Nanotherapy. He was also head of the Optical Radiology Laboratory (Biophotonics Research Center), Vice President of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Mallinckrodt Institute, and co-leader of the Siteman Cancer Center’s oncology imaging program.
Q&A with Dr. Achilefu
Why is this an exciting time for biomedical engineering?
The new era of the technological revolution is transforming the world as we know it. From the point of view of biomedical engineering, the fusion of biological and medical engineering represents a unique opportunity to create innovative systems and methods to transform the current healthcare system into a real healthcare enterprise.
I am inspired daily by our ability as scientists and engineers to make dreams come true. But I’m also a realist. I am aware of the challenges of venturing into the unknown. Perhaps one way to quickly turn dreams into reality is to train a future generation of researchers to think differently and develop solutions that are not constrained by the obstacles our current understanding imposes on them.
You are a recognized expert in the application of molecular imaging for the treatment of human diseases, with research interests in image-guided cancer surgery, portable imaging devices, and nanotechnology. With such varied interests, what is your vision for the future?
I am thrilled to continue some of my research projects at UT Southwestern, but my immediate priority as the inaugural BME Chair is to empower faculty in the Department to transform ideas into technology-based biomedical and clinical solutions. We must provide valuable tools for clinicians and scientists to effectively treat disease and understand the molecular and structural basis of biological processes.
The development of portable, affordable and efficient devices will enable us to reduce health disparities and prevent the onset of disease. While traditional engineering solutions will form a significant part of our research, I will encourage our faculty to imagine a world where our devices can help understand the healthy person so that deviations from the norm can be found early.
Biomedical Engineering of the UTSW
“I am thrilled with UT Southwestern’s strong leadership commitment to the new Department of Biomedical Engineering,” said Dr. Achilefu, who holds Lyda Hill Distinguished University’s Chair in Biomedical Engineering. “The inaugural BME Chair position at UT Southwestern represents an exciting opportunity to leverage my diverse research experiences at the interface between medicine and engineering. This position satisfies my passion for creating new functional teams and inspires them to find innovative solutions to complex challenges in science, engineering and medicine. A unique strength of the new Department is its direct affiliation with the Medical Center, which offers distinct advantages over similar departments elsewhere. “
The 150,000-square-foot Texas Instruments Biomedical Engineering and Sciences Building, scheduled to open in 2023, will serve as the location for the new department and the BME PhD. trace, part of UT Southwestern’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Designed specifically to facilitate collaborations, the facility will support the work of dozens of faculty and their teams with both wet and dry laboratory spaces, along with a biodesign center with a large assembly / design studio, a manufacturing workshop of metals and salt for 3D printing.
By integrating biomedical engineering with advances in related fields such as artificial intelligence, molecular imaging, robotics and genetic engineering, the UT Southwestern-UT Dallas biomedical engineering partnership, as well as collaboration with UT Arlington BME, it will further strengthen North Texas as a hub for biomedical innovation.
UTSW’s Biomedical Engineering Graduate School program, led by W. Matthew Petroll, Ph.D., has joint degree programs with UT Dallas and UT Arlington with five research and teaching tracks, including:
Students interested in participating in the PhD in Biomedical Engineering. The program can get more information through the school.
About UT Southwestern Medical Center
UT Southwestern, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institute’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes and includes 25 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 researchers from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The full-time faculty of more than 2,800 faculty is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to rapidly translating scientific research into new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in approximately 80 specialties to more than 117,000 hospitalized patients, more than 360,000 emergency room cases, and supervise nearly 3 million outpatient visits annually.