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New biomedical engineering chair earns high honors

HOUSTON, Feb. 25, 2010 Just weeks into his post as John S. Dunn Distinguished Professor and founding chair of the University of Houston's new department of biomedical engineering, Metin Akay is already being recognized.

He was selected and recently inducted into two prestigious engineering and science organizations the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). Internationally known, Akay was recognized Feb. 20 at the AAAS annual meeting in San Diego and Feb. 22 at the annual AIMBE meeting in Washington, D.C.

Of the 531 new AAAS fellows selected, Akay is one of 48 in the engineering section. His contributions to biomedical engineering research and education, specifically his work in informatics and neural engineering, earned him a fellowship with the association. AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the prominent journal Science.

For his AIMBE honor, Akay was selected for his contributions to the fields of neural and cardiovascular engineering. He was among 55 elected by AIMBE into the College of Fellows, which advocates for public policies facilitating progress in medical and biological research and development to benefit the public. Akay and his fellow inductees, according to AIMBE, represent some of the most imaginative and distinguished medical and biological engineers in the field. Their contributions have had major impacts in biomedical devices and processes, treatment of diseases, and public policy related to all aspects of medical and biological engineering.

These two honors come on the heels of Akay becoming the founding chair of UH's new biomedical engineering department last month. This is the first new department established at the Cullen College of Engineering at UH in more than 35 years.

Embracing the challenge of converting the college's longstanding biomedical program into a department, Akay has many goals in his new role at UH. In addition to increasing the visibility of the department, he anticipates adding as many as 12 faculty in the next five years, creating a distinguished lecture series, enhancing the program's offerings with a Ph.D. option in addition to existing bachelor's and master's degree tracks, and stimulating research collaborations with the Texas Medical Center.

Akay's endowed chair position is funded by the John S. Dunn Research Foundation and was created to help lead research initiatives at the university, as well as play a prominent role in the Institute for Biomedical Imaging Science the research partnership formed by UH, The Methodist Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College. Akay says a significant part of this includes establishing a health care focused academic curriculum and entrepreneurship environment that meet the demands and requirements of the ever-changing global economy that influences health care technology, management and delivery. He plans to develop new academic and research fields that include biomedical imaging, neural and cognitive engineering, and genomics and proteomics science and engineering.

"Developments in science, engineering and technology have stimulated interdisciplinary research and collaborations among engineers, physicians, computer scientists and biologists," Akay said at a recent public gathering. "We are in the midst of these scientific and technological advancements, and it is an exciting time to be in the biomedical field."

Akay is a native of Turkey who earned his Ph.D. from Rutgers University in 1990. He was most recently a professor and former interim chair at Arizona State University's Harrington Department of Bioengineering before coming to UH in January 2010.

"The Cullen College of Engineering is uniquely positioned to play a major role in biomedical sciences in the Houston area," said Joseph W. Tedesco, Elizabeth D. Rockwell Endowed Chair and dean. "We are excited that Metin Akay is leading our academic and research efforts in biomedical engineering at the University of Houston."


Contact: Lisa Merkl
University of Houston

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