March 26, 2008

Vanderbilt professor named chair of biomedical engineering

Todd D. Giorgio, professor of biomedical engineering, has been named chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University.

[Note: Click here for a high resolution photo of Professor Giorgio.]

Todd D. Giorgio, professor of biomedical engineering, has been named chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University.

He succeeds Thomas R. Harris, Orrin Henry Ingram Distinguished Professor of Engineering, who is retiring in May.

“While conducting a national search for a successor to Dr. Harris, we became convinced that Dr. Giorgio would be the best possible person to chair the Department of Biomedical Engineering,” said Kenneth Galloway, dean of the Vanderbilt School of Engineering. “During the past eight months, he served as a very effective interim chair of the department. His considerable leadership skills, scholarship and teaching abilities will prove valuable in leading the department to even higher levels of achievement.”

Giorgio said he wants biomedical engineering “to achieve greater visibility within the university and throughout the academic world consistent with the accomplishments and potential of our faculty.”

“Biomedical engineering at Vanderbilt brings together quantitative engineering with fundamental science, leading to innovations in medical practice,” he said.

His goals include hiring more faculty members, expanding research areas, attracting additional graduate students, strengthening undergraduate education and forming small businesses from promising research.

“We have a special opportunity, through a combination of expansion and retirements, to hire a substantial number of new faculty members over the next five years,” he said. “We have the resources to strengthen our current areas of expertise and to establish new areas of research in cooperation with medicine and the biological sciences.”

The department currently has 18 faculty members who are primarily located on two floors of the Stevenson Center. About 300 undergraduate engineering students and 70 graduate students are enrolled in biomedical engineering.

In addition to his primary appointment, Giorgio also serves as professor of chemical engineering and professor of interdisciplinary materials science. He is on the executive committee of the Vanderbilt Institute for Nanoscale Science and Engineering (VINSE).

Giorgio is a researcher at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, where he has contributed new ideas to the treatment of cancer through his work on the disease at the cellular and molecular levels. He and his team have discovered new materials to infiltrate the nuclei of malignant cells to deliver therapy more effectively than conventional methods. They have also developed methods to detect breast cancer at very early stages by using nanoparticles that bind to the cancer cells. As a result, the cancer is more easily imaged, facilitating early detection of the most lethal, metastatic form of the disease. He is currently working on developing a point-of-care breast cancer test that would be used in a physician’s office much like a home pregnancy test to detect cancer at even earlier stages.

Among his proudest achievements was participation in an interdisciplinary team that developed an artificial liver that is being used to treat patients with liver disease and traumatic injuries.

Giorgio joined the Vanderbilt faculty as an assistant professor of chemical engineering in 1987. He was named associate professor of chemical engineering in 1993 and associate professor of biomedical engineering in 1996.

He is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). He has won an outstanding teaching award from the School of Engineering and four awards for the best research paper from the Vanderbilt Engineering Research Council.

Giorgio earned his B.S. degree in 1982 from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn., and his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Rice University in Houston, Texas.

Media Contact: David F. Salisbury, (615) 322-NEWS

Joanne L. Beckham, (615) 415-8171