Rice bioengineer wins ASME's Van C. Mow Medal

06/20/05

Athanasiou honored for pioneering work in articular cartilage bioengineering

HOUSTON, June 20, 2005 Renowned Rice University bioengineer Kyriacos Athanasiou has been awarded the inaugural Van. C. Mow Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Athanasiou, the Karl F. Hasselmann Professor of Bioengineering, was selected "for pioneering work in articular cartilage bioengineering, particularly the invention of a self-assembling approach without use of scaffolds to engineer articular cartilage constructs with properties approaching those of native cartilage."

Established in 2004, the Van C. Mow Medal is given annually to an individual who has made significant contributions to the field of bioengineering through research, education, professional development, leadership in the development of the profession, as a mentor to young investigators and with service to the bioengineering community.

"Having known and studied under Van Mow at Columbia, I am extremely honored to receive this inaugural award from ASME," said Athanasiou. "Dr. Mow embodied each of the characteristics this award honors, and it is humbling to be mentioned in such esteemed company."

A past president of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), Athanasiou was elected to the society's inaugural class of fellows in April. The society, an international professional organization representing more than 3,000 bioengineers and biomedical engineers, is the lead society for the accreditation of bioengineering and biomedical engineering departments in the United States. In addition to serving as BMES president in 2003-2004, Athanasiou is a past member of its board of directors and a past chair of both its finance and membership committees. Athanasiou currently serves on the society's executive committee and also serves as faculty adviser to Rice's student chapter of BMES.

Athanasiou has published more than 150 peer-reviewed papers, 200 conference proceedings and abstracts, and he holds some 25 U.S. patents. He has mentored more than 130 medical residents, post-doctoral researchers, graduate students, undergraduates and high school students. Moreover, three companies -- Osteobiologics, Xilas Medical and VidaCare have been founded based upon his discoveries. The companies have 10 FDA-approved products among them. One of those, VidaCare's EZ-IO -- a device used by paramedics and frontline military medics in Afghanistan and Iraq to inject life-saving medications directly into the bones of patients suffering blood loss and shock -- is already credited with saving numerous lives and was recognized in April with top honors in the critical-care and emergency medical category of the prestigious Medical Design Excellence Award competition.

"Dr. Athanasiou's tireless service to the discipline of bioengineering have earned him a worldwide reputation as a leader," said Rebecca Richards-Kortum, the incoming chair of Rice's Bioengineering Department. "He is richly deserving of this honor."

Athanasiou joined Rice in December 1999. His research centers on the regeneration of cartilages, tissues that cannot heal themselves. His Musculoskeletal Bioengineering Laboratory conducts basic research on the healing processes of cartilage and applied research into methods of growing tissues. Athanasiou's group boasts 15 doctoral students, five post-docs and lab manager.

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