Seven faculty inducted as AIMBE fellows

Michelle Oyen and Lan Yang are among this year's inductees

Leah Shaffer 
Clockwise from top left: Benzinger, Culver, Oyen, Yang, Wang, Stegh (Not pictured: Elliot Elson)
Clockwise from top left: Benzinger, Culver, Oyen, Yang, Wang, Stegh (Not pictured: Elliot Elson)

Seven Washington University in St. Louis faculty members have been named Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), joining 23 existing fellows at Washington University. The new fellows are among 162 colleagues inducted March 25 in Arlington, Va. 

Election to AIMBE’s College of Fellows is limited to the top 2% of medical and biological engineers in these fields. Those elected are considered to have made outstanding contributions to engineering and medicine research, practice or education. 

Washington University’s newly inducted fellows are: Tammie L.S. Benzinger, MD, PhD; Joseph P. Culver, PhD; Michelle L. Oyen, PhD; Alexander H. Stegh, PhD; Ting Wang, PhD; and Lan Yang, PhD. Elliot L. Elson, PhD, a professor emeritus in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at the School of Medicine was elected to last year’s class but is being inducted this year.

Tammie L. S. Benzinger

Neuroradiologist Tammie L. S. Benzinger, MD, PhD, uses imaging to investigate biomarkers in aging and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Biomarkers are biological signs that can be used to diagnose disease, predict progression and track the response to treatment. Benzinger uses a variety of advanced imaging techniques to measure inflammation in the brain, a key element of many neurodegenerative conditions. She also uses imaging of the key Alzheimer’s proteins amyloid beta and tau to investigate how the disease develops and progresses, and how it differs from healthy aging. 

A professor of radiology and of neurosurgery, Benzinger also serves as the chief of the MRI service and is a member of the neuroradiology section at the School of Medicine’s Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology.   

Joseph P. Culver

Joseph P. Culver, the Sherwood Moore Professor of Radiology at the School of Medicine, is a pioneer in using the power of light to image the brain noninvasively. For humans, his work has advanced the technique of diffuse optical tomography (DOT), which uses interlaced arrays of tiny lights and detectors placed on the outside of the head to track what the brain is doing. Among other achievements, his group designed a wearable DOT-based cap — now under commercial development — to image people’s brains under naturalistic conditions. For mice, his group has pioneered resting state technics for mapping brain networks, with broad applications in preclinical models of neurological disease.

At the School of Medicine’s Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Culver directs the Biophotonics Research Center, which harnesses light to develop methods for understanding, diagnosing and treating human diseases. He also serves as co-director of Washington University’s Imaging Science PhD program.

Michelle L. Oyen

Michelle L. Oyen, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering, directs WashU’s Center for Women’s Health Engineering. The Center unites researchers from the McKelvey School of Engineering and the School of Medicine in collaborative research, education and training around understudied areas of women’s health, including maternal health and cancers of the reproductive system. Entrepreneurship and outreach — both within and outside of the university community — are further pillars of the Center’s activities. Oyen leverages her background in biomechanics and biomaterials to study pregnancy, particularly in engineering approaches for prevention of and intervention into preterm birth. 

Oyen was named among the 200 Trailblazing Leaders in Women’s Health and FemTech for 2023 by Women of Wearables for her advocacy efforts and dedication to enhancing women’s health and well-being. She earned a doctorate in medical physics from the University of Minnesota.

Alexander Stegh

Alexander H. Stegh, PhD, PhD, is a professor of neurosurgery at the School of Medicine and a national leader in the study of glioblastoma, one of the most aggressive forms of brain cancer. His research focuses on uncovering genetic drivers of glioblastoma through a combination of cellular and molecular biology, engineered mouse models, and oncogenomics, the latter of which is a subfield of genomics that characterizes cancer-associated genes. 

Additionally, Stegh’s research is noted for pioneering efforts to develop nanotechnologies to dial down the expression of oncogenes and activate anti-tumor immune responses. His success in translating nanoparticle-based precision medicine approaches to brain cancer patients has led to a clinical trial in people involving gene-regulatory spherical nucleic acids (SNAs) for the treatment of recurrent glioblastoma. Stegh is also vice chair of research in the Department of Neurosurgery and research director of the Brain Tumor Center at Siteman Cancer Center, based at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.

Ting Wang

Ting Wang, PhD, the Sanford C. and Karen P. Loewentheil Distinguished Professor of Medicine and head of the Department of Genetics at the School of Medicine, studies how genes are regulated in health and disease, with a focus on the genetics and epigenetics of cancer.

Wang has led groundbreaking studies in how the genome is regulated through the lens of transposable elements — short pieces of the genome that have changed locations over the course of human evolution. Transposable elements can change how a gene is expressed, potentially causing diseases, such as cancer. Wang holds major leadership roles in several national genomics collaborations, including the Human Pangenome Reference Consortium and the Somatic Mosaicism across Human Tissues Network. He was nominated for his development of computational methods and visualization techniques to create large genomics resources for the scientific community. The human pangenome project aims to create a new human genome reference that better represents genetic diversity. Somatic mosaicism refers to changes to our DNA that occur after conception and that lead to some cells in our bodies having different DNA sequences than other cells.

Lan Yang

Lan Yang, PhD, the Edwin H. & Florence G. Skinner Professor in the Preston M. Green Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering, develops advanced nano- and micro-photonic devices for unconventional control of light. Yang’s research discoveries have led to the development of diverse optical technologies for a broad range of applications in sensing, spectroscopy, imaging, lasing, environmental monitoring, biomedical research and communications. She co-founded DeepSight™ Technology, a medtech company focused on developing innovative diagnostic and therapeutic tools and systems.

In 2010, Yang earned a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and in 2011, she was honored by President Barack Obama with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Yang is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Optica, formerly the Optical Society (OSA). She is also a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors and is listed among the world’s most highly cited researchers in the world by the Institute for Scientific Information. Yang earned a doctorate at the California Institute of Technology. 

— Tamara Bhandari, Shawn Ballard, Kristina Sauerwein and Julia Strait contributed to this story.

The McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis promotes independent inquiry and education with an emphasis on scientific excellence, innovation and collaboration without boundaries. McKelvey Engineering has top-ranked research and graduate programs across departments, particularly in biomedical engineering, environmental engineering and computing, and has one of the most selective undergraduate programs in the country. With 165 full-time faculty, 1,420 undergraduate students, 1,614 graduate students and 21,000 living alumni, we are working to solve some of society’s greatest challenges; to prepare students to become leaders and innovate throughout their careers; and to be a catalyst of economic development for the St. Louis region and beyond.

Click on the topics below for more stories in those areas

Back to News