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Letter From the Deans - Issue 11

Matthew Tirrell, Steven Gaines, Evelyn Hu

Biomedical Research and Engineering at UC Santa Barbara

In this issue we focus on stem cell research here at UCSB. We have an interview with Dennis Clegg, co-chair of our Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering and chair of our Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB), and an article on some of the specific stem cell research programs going on here, with a side-bar on James Thomson, the “father of stem cell research” and an adjunct professor of MCDB and co-director of our Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering.

The faculty members and their stem cell work covered in these articles are just a part of a much broader UCSB presence in biomedical research and engineering. Our Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies (ICB), for example, has active programs in regenerative medicine, diabetes, pathogen detection and identification, highly targeted drug delivery, advanced DNA sequencing, single-cell diagnostics, and systems biology. We’ll be visiting ICB and some of the other biomedical programs in future issues.

Prominence in biomedical engineering is typically associated with advanced degree programs in the field and with the presence of a medical school at the institution. UCSB has neither, yet we’re ranked second nationally for our faculty’s “scholarly productivity”* in the field. That prominence and productivity is a clear reflection of the pervasive interdisciplinary culture in our sciences and engineering, and throughout the campus—the vast majority of our research programs involve scientists and engineers from multiple disciplines, and the resulting synergy is a “high-energy-density” fuel for collaborative research.

That interdisciplinarity emerges as a second theme for this issue, extended by the articles on our Media Arts and Technology Program, which brings art and science together, and on the unique characteristics of squid beaks, explored by engineers and scientists together. That’s a lot of Convergence…

Deans' Signatures

*The ranking is by Academic Analytics, a recognized national ranking service which considers the number of faculty members in the program area, the number of books and journal articles they have written, the number of times other scholars have cited them (impact), and the awards, honors, and grant dollars they have received.