The Bioengineering Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has awarded its 2013/14 H.R. Lissner Medal to Kyriacos Athanasiou, a distinguished professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering. Formal presentation of this award, which includes a bronze medal and $1,000 honorarium, will be made during the seventh World Congress of Biomechanics, taking place July 6-11, 2014, in Boston, Mass.
The award, established in 1977, is considered the ASME Bioengineering Division’s highest honor. It recognizes outstanding achievements in the field of bioengineering, which may take the form of significant research contributions; the development of new methods of bioengineering measurement; the design of new equipment and instrumentation; a noteworthy educational impact in the training of new bioengineers; and/or service to the bioengineering community in general, and to ASME’s Bioengineering Division in particular.
Athanasiou obtained a summa cum laude undergraduate degree in 1984, at the New York Institute of Technology; he followed that with three advanced degrees at Columbia University — in 1985, ’88 and ’89 — where he began to concentrate on bioengineering. Aside from his extensive work at the University of Texas and Rice University, he served for a year as visiting professor at the Institute of Biomedical Research and Technology, and the Department of Orthopedics, at the University of Thessaly, in Greece. He became chair of the UC Davis Department of Biomechanical Engineering in August 2009.
In October 2011, he received the Distinguished Service Award — one of the highest possible honors — from the Biomedical Engineering Society.
Athanasiou’s research focuses on understanding and enhancing the healing process of cartilage, which continues to be one of the most vexing issues in musculoskeletal medicine. Following trauma or due to pathologic affliction, cartilage is unable to heal itself in a way that would allow it to function properly within its strenuous and biomechanically difficult environment. Athanasiou and his research team have been growing cartilage tissue in the lab from adult stem cells taken from bone marrow and skin, along with those from human embryonic stem cells. He desires nothing less than “live, biological cartilage that not only will fill defects, but potentially will be able to resurface the entire surface of joints destroyed by osteoarthritis.”
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, founded in 1880, serves diverse global communities by advancing, disseminating and applying engineering knowledge for improving the quality of life, and communicating the excitement of engineering. ASME enables collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines, while promoting the vital role of the engineer in society. ASME codes and standards, publications, conferences, continuing education and professional development programs provide a foundation for advancing technical knowledge and a safer world.