Skalak Memorial Lecture:On the Development of Biomedical Engineering and/or Bioengineering in the U.S.: A Historical Perspective with Emphasis on the Role of Columbia University and UC San Diego

Fri, 03/08/2013 - 2:00pm
Atkinson Hall Auditorium

Van C. Mow, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopedic Engineering
Columbia University

Abstract: While the emphasis for biomedical engineering and/or bioengineering at Columbia University and UCSD are relatively new, studies on properties of such "biological" materials and events as bone, blood flow, articular cartilage date back to Galileo (1632), Harvey (1670) and Borelli (1680), Benninghoff (1900), respectively.   Indeed, the word biology did not appear in the learned literature until the late 19th century. Galileo laid the foundation of mechanics in his book on the Two New Sciences in the last decade of his life while under house arrest in Pope Urban VIII's apartment in Rome.  In this book the seeds of strength of material and kinematics were sown, later to be formulated by Isaac Newton after Galileo's death which occurred in 1642, which is the same year Newton was born.  Today, here is no doubt of the singularly influential role played by Professor Y.C. Fung of UCSD in the development of the bioengineering discipline in America.  Also, the important roles played by Professor Richard Skalak (the namesake for this memorial lecture series), and Professor Shu Chien, both were formerly Columbia University professors, in enhancing the UCSD bioengineering program nationally and internationally.  Professor Fung, in a stroke of genius, was able to recruit Skalak and Chien to relocate from Columbia to UCSD in 1988; this event, and the Whitaker Foundation, forever changed the landscape of bioengineering in America.  Today, UCSD's graduate research program is without doubt one of the most recognized bioengineering research program in the world. In this lecture, I will present this short history, as well as my own role in establishing one of the best biomedical engineering departments in the world at Columbia.
Biography: After receiving his PhD from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1966, Dr. Mow did one year postdoctoral fellowship at the Courant Institute Institute of Mathematical Sciences at NYU, follow by two years as a Member of Technical Staff at Bell Labs writing programs for the antisubmarine sonar network off the U.S. east coast.    In 1969, he was invited back to Rensselaer to become associate professor of applied mechanics and engineering science (AMES), when he turned his attention for studies on biomechanics.  He then spent one-year as a visiting professor at the Skeletal Research Laboratory of Harvard Medical School.  Today, he is one of the most widely prolific and well recognized bioengineers in the world, with approximately 730 publications, delivered over 500 invited, keynote and plenary lectures. His current ISI Citations is more than 13,500 and Hi-Index of 67.  Over his career, he has mentored exactly 75 PhD students and PhD-MD research fellows, many of whom have become well recognized in the field of bioengineering.  For these contributions he has been elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, Academia Sinica of Taiwan, and The World Academy of Sciences.  In 2005, ASME created a named medal to honor his contributions:  The Van C. Mow Medal for Outstanding Bioengineers at mid career; Professor Robert Sah is the 2nd recipient of this medal. 


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