Jennifer L. West, PhD, dean of the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science and professor of biomedical engineering in the UVA School of Medicine, has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest recognitions in health and medicine. The National Academy of Medicine is one of three institutions that make up the National Academies, operating under an 1863 Congressional charter signed by President Lincoln to assemble experts to advise the nation in science and technology.
“It is my honor to welcome this truly exceptional class of new members to the National Academy of Medicine,” said NAM President Victor J. Dzau. “Their contributions to health and medicine are unparalleled, and their leadership and expertise will be essential to helping the NAM tackle today’s urgent health challenges, inform the future of health care, and ensure health equity for the benefit of all around the globe.”
Dean West was also elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2016 and is the only person at UVA elected to two of the National Academies.
“I am deeply honored to be elected to the National Academy of Medicine,” West said. “Being a member of both of these Academies speaks to the interdisciplinary nature of engineering and medicine, and to UVA as a good place for engineering and medicine to work together.”
Dean West is Engineering’s first female dean, leading the school since 2021. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a doctorate from the University of Texas, Austin, Dean West is world-renowned for her research in biomaterials, including photopolymerizable hydrogels, tissue engineering scaffolds, and nanoparticles that can be used for photothermal cancer therapy. Dean West co-founded Nanospectra Biosciences, Inc. to commercialize this new cancer treatment, currently in human clinical trials.
Dean West has received numerous accolades for her work, including election to the National Academy of Inventors, selection as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor and being commissioned as an Admiral of the Texas Navy (an honor bestowed by the governor upon citizens).
Since coming to UVA, Dean West has promoted continued cooperation and collaboration between engineering and medicine. The Department of Biomedical Engineering is a joint effort between the UVA Engineering and the School of Medicine, and Dean West has expanded the size of the engineering faculty in the department by 30% over the past two years. Numerous collaborations between other engineering departments and medicine also exist, and external funding of research that spans engineering and medicine at UVA exceeds $23 million per year. The close proximity between the schools helps foster these powerful cross-school interactions.
West is known for building community, encouraging underrepresented faculty and students in STEM, and for leading UVA Engineering in its pursuit of entrepreneurship opportunities.
“By incorporating a spirit of entrepreneurship and needed resources into the already robust and collaborative research environment created by our students, faculty, staff and alumni, we ensure that our outstanding efforts result in the development of products and technologies that can benefit society,” said West. “Building the resources to help students and faculty achieve success is critical to realizing UVA Engineering’s potential to make the world a better place, and I will continue to champion that potential.”
Article by Wende Whitman, Communications Manager, UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science