Bioengineering Alum Helen H. Lu Receives Presidential Honor

Helen H. Lu, an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University, has been selected to receive the nation’s highest honor for scientists at the outset of their professional careers. She is one of 12 National Institutes of Health-nominated winners of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). 

Lu is a graduate of Penn Engineering’s Department of Bioengineering, where she received her BSE, MSE and Ph.D. degrees.  Her Ph.D. dissertation, “45S5 bioactive glass surface zeta potential variations in electrolyte solutions with and without fibronectin,” was written under advisor Sol Pollack and co-advised by Paul Ducheyne, both professors in the department of Bioengineering. After receiving her Ph.D., Helen ventured further into the field of biomaterials research, exploring methods to guide and stimulate tissue repair, also known as tissue engineering. In 2008, she was the recipient of the Young Investigator's Award of the Society for Biomaterials.

Lu’s current research focuses on understanding how the biological interfaces between different types of connective tissues are formed and how to re-establish these distinct tissue-to-tissue boundaries post-injury.  In contrast to more traditional approaches, Lu’s research aims to use biological and synthetic grafts to regenerate native tissue interfaces.  Long term goals include simultaneously engineering multiple tissues or functional organ systems pre-designed to integrate with the host environment.

In announcing the awards, President Barack Obama said, "These extraordinarily gifted young scientists and engineers represent the best in our country. With their talent, creativity, and dedication, I am confident that they will lead their fields in new breakthroughs and discoveries and help us use science and technology to lift up our nation and our world."

Credit: Columbia University Press Release

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Helen Lu’s Research
Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
Penn Department of Bioengineering

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