Three biomedical engineering professors elected as AIMBE Fellows

Three professors from the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis have been elected to the 2016 College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, representing the top 2 percent of medical and biological engineers in the country.

Home to the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Whitaker Hall is located near the northeast corner of WashU's Danforth Campus.​

Jianmin Cui, Daniel Moran and Rohit Pappu, all professors in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, will be inducted as fellows April 4 in Washington, D.C.

AIMBE's College of Fellows is comprised of about 1,500 individuals who have made significant contributions to the medical and biological engineering community in academia, industry, government and education that have transformed the world. Fellows are nominated each year by their peers and work toward realizing AIMBE's vision to provide medical and biological engineering innovation for the benefit of humanity.

"We are proud of Jianmin, Dan and Rohit, who have devoted their careers to research and innovation that will ultimately improve the quality of life for many people," said Steven C. George, MD, PhD, the Elvera & William Stuckenberg Professor of Technology & Human Affairs and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. "They are not only world-class leaders in their fields, but also outstanding mentors and role models for our students."

Cui's research includes molecular basis of electrical signaling in normal and diseased cardiovascular and nervous systems. Abnormal electrical activities cause cardiac arrhythmia and neurological disorders such as epilepsy. Using experimental and computational approaches, including molecular biology, electrophysiology, fluorescence optical measurement, kinetic modeling and protein dynamics simulation, Cui's lab analyzes the mechanism of ion channels that generate electrical signals and how genetic mutations of these important molecules alter channel function and cause diseases. Cui earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Peking University and a doctorate from State University of New York.

Moran's research interests include voluntary motor control, neuroprostheses, brain-computer interfacing, musculoskeletal modeling, sciatic nerve stimulation and neurophysiology. He works to understand how the brain controls voluntary upper arm movements and to identify alternative control signals for brain-computer interfaces, which restore function in patients who have paralysis or neuromuscular disorders. His work often crosses disciplines into medicine. Moran earned a bachelor's degree from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and a doctorate from Arizona State University.

Pappu, the Edwin H. Murty Professor of Engineering in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, has made significant discoveries in the field of intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs). These proteins are intrinsically unfolded and constitute the "dark proteome" because of their central roles in transcription and cell signaling and their inaccessibility to structural characterization using conventional tools of structural biology. Pappu's lab has deployed a unique combination of polymer physics theories, novel computer simulations and single molecule experiments to decode the relationships between amino acid sequences and the conformational properties of IDPs. These insights have catalyzed molecular engineering and protein design strategies that are yielding unprecedented insights regarding IDPs as controllers of bacterial cell division, embryonic development, and the initiation of cell death. Pappu also has made significant contributions to uncover the driving forces for and mechanisms of protein aggregation in the context of Huntington's disease. Through close collaboration with cell biologists and neurologists, Pappu is discovering the molecular basis for cellular specificity in neurodegeneration. These discoveries are promising for their potential to lead to cures for aging-related neurological disorders. Pappu earned a bachelor's degree from Bangalore University and master's and doctoral degrees from Tufts University.

The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 88 tenured/tenure-track and 40 additional full-time faculty, 1,300 undergraduate students, more than 900 graduate students and more than 23,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.