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Professor honored for outstanding contributions to improving diversity in biomedical engineering

by Greg St. Martin

Srinivas Sridhar, Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Physics, Bio­engi­neering, and Chem­ical Engi­neering at North­eastern, who has led pio­neering research and edu­ca­tion ini­tia­tives in the field of nanomed­i­cine, has received the 2016 Bio­med­ical Engi­neering Society Diver­sity Award.

The award, which was pre­sented ear­lier this month, honors recip­i­ents for their out­standing con­tri­bu­tions to improving gender and racial diver­sity in bio­med­ical engi­neering. “This award rec­og­nizes the work I’ve been doing for the past 10 years, a path moti­vated by spreading knowl­edge and breaking down bar­riers to access of knowl­edge,” Sridhar said.

A year ago Sridhar and col­league Thomas Web­ster, the Art Zafiropoulo Chair in Engi­neering and the chair of the Depart­ment of Chem­ical Engi­neering, received a National Sci­ence Foun­da­tion grant to launch the Nanomed­i­cine Academy of Minority Serving Insti­tu­tions. The ini­tia­tive builds upon Sridhar’s work over the past decade to grow Northeastern’s robust research port­folio and cur­ricula in nan­otech­nology and nanomed­i­cine and is designed as means of training a diverse work­force focused on bringing nan­otech­nology solu­tions to medicine.

The academy, which Sridhar directs, has estab­lished a scal­able, inter­ac­tive net­work that web broad­casts grad­uate courses and research pro­to­cols from a class­room at North­eastern to stu­dents enrolled at four partner insti­tu­tions: the Uni­ver­sity of Puerto Rico Mayaguez, Tuskegee Uni­ver­sity, Morgan State Uni­ver­sity, and Florida Inter­na­tional University.

“We’ve estab­lished a unique model of col­lab­o­ra­tive edu­ca­tion,” Sridhar said.

The academy expands on the work of Northeastern’s 11-​​year Nanomed­i­cine and Tech­nology Pro­gram, also directed by Sridhar and funded by the NSF’s Inte­gra­tive Grad­uate Edu­ca­tion and Research Trainee­ship, or IGERT, pro­gram. Sridhar also leads the university’s CaN­CURE pro­gram, which pro­vides co-​​ops for under­grad­u­ates in nanomed­i­cine research in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Ini­tia­tive to Elim­i­nate Cancer Dis­par­i­ties at the Dana-​​Farber/​Harvard Cancer Center. The CaN­CURE pro­gram places a par­tic­ular emphasis on attracting young sci­en­tists from under­rep­re­sented minority groups.

In hon­oring Sridhar the Bio­med­ical Engi­neering Society under­scored these con­tri­bu­tions as well as his work men­toring women and under­rep­re­sented minori­ties who are bio­med­ical scientists—including fac­ulty, post­doc­toral fel­lows, and grad­uate and under­grad­uate students.

Originally published in news@Northeastern on October 31, 2016.

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