Remembering Robert M. Nerem, Georgia Tech’s Founding Father of Bioengineering and Bioscience
Bob Nerem often said, “research, like life, is a people business,” and he spent most of his 56-year academic career proving the point. Nerem would enthusiastically strike up a conversation with the undergrad or the fellow bioengineer or the restaurant waiter, asking questions, connecting on a personal level. An internationally-renowned pioneer in bioengineering and biomedical research and education, Nerem’s most memorable trait was probably his sincere affability.
“Bob always had time to talk to anyone, always had a kind word, a funny story or witty remark – he positively influenced thousands in our community by showing that he genuinely cared about everyone,” said Andrés García, executive director of the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at Georgia Tech, remembering Nerem, the founding director of the Petit Institute who died Friday, March 6, at 82… Continue reading.
Petit Institute founding director recognized with national education and mentorship award named in his honor
Bob Nerem has won some of the top awards and honors in his field, recognitions for his dedication and accomplishments over a long career as a trailblazing bioengineer. But this summer, he’ll receive the kind of honor that will outlast him, when the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) commits his likeness to bronze.
“ASME has established the Robert M. Nerem Education and Mentorship Medal to recognize individuals who play a role in influencing engineering careers in the growing field of bioengineering,” said K. Keith Roe, president of the society. “A key criteria is mentoring in the form of activities that are innovative above and beyond what is normally seen.”
That would be Nerem, founding director of the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineers (NAE) and one of only three bioengineers to receive the Founders Award from that organization. He’s also a member of the National Academy of Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Nerem was instrumental in launching the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), serving as its founding president, and helped establish the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), the newest member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He also belongs to both the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and the Polish Academy of Sciences, and holds honorary doctorates from the University of Paris, Imperial College of London, and the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Science Translational Medicine published a new article co-authored by Shu Chien, Rashid Bashir, Robert M. Nerem, and Roderic Pettigrew (All AIMBE Fellows), entitled “Engineering as a New Frontier for Translational Medicine” in the April 1 issue.
The article’s abstract reads: The inclusion of engineering ideas and approaches makes medicine a quantitative and systems-based discipline that facilitates precision diagnostics and therapeutics to improve health care delivery for all.
Georgia Tech faculty member Bob Nerem’s work has helped significantly to advance medical science and improve the quality of life.
To many at Georgia Tech, he has been one of the pioneers in the field and instrumental in leading the effort in the areas of bioengineering and biosciences on campus and beyond.
Nerem is looking to ensure the Institute’s continued preeminence in the field of bioengineering.
He and his wife, Marilyn, have made plans in their estate that will one day establish the Marilyn R. and Robert M. Nerem faculty chair or professorship in Georgia Tech’s Parker H. Petit Institute of Bioengineering and Bioscience.
Nerem’s work has helped to significantly advance medical science and improve
quality of life. To many on North Avenue, he has been one of the pioneers in the field, instrumental in leading the effort in the areas of bioengineering and bioscience on the campus and beyond.
After 26 years on the Tech faculty — and nearly 50 years in academia — Nerem is looking to ensure the Institute’s continued preeminence in the field of bioengineering.
To that end, he and his wife, Marilyn, have made an estate commitment that will one day establish the Marilyn R. and Robert M. Nerem faculty chair or professorship in the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience (IBB).
The Nerem faculty position will operate as a Petit Institute faculty appointment without restriction to a specific academic field of endeavor, thus including both bioengineering and the life sciences.
The goal is to enhance the Petit Institute’s ability to attract and retain eminent teacher-scholars to this position of academic leadership.
“Georgia Tech has been a leader in pioneering biomedical techniques and devices that make a tremendous difference in people’s lives,” Nerem said. “Marilyn and I want to make sure that Tech continues its leadership role in this work far into the future, and that’s why we wanted to create this faculty position.”
This Fall, Worcester Polytechnic Institute had the pleasure of hosting Robert M. Nerem, Ph.D, a professor at Georgia Institute of Technology and Distinguished Chair Emeritus at the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience. Professor Nerem’s visit to campus included meetings with faculty and graduate students as well as his seminar “Bioengineering: A Half Century of Progress, But Still Only a Beginning.” Throughout the seminar, Nerem described the major developments in modern biology and the engineering revolution this progress demands. In recent years, bioengineering has emerged and developed in the United States and continues to expand globally. Growth and advancement in bioengineering will be just as prominent as we move further into the 21st century as it has been in the last 50 years, providing many exciting opportunities for those involved in the field.
Nerem and McDevitt will lead Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Program
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $3 million to the Georgia Institute of Technology to fund a unique research program on stem cell bio-manufacturing. The program is specifically focused on developing engineering methods for stem cell production, in order to meet the anticipated demand for stem cells. The award comes through the NSF’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Program, which supports innovation in graduate education in fields that cross academic disciplines and have broad societal impact.
While stem cell research is on the verge of broadly impacting many elements of the medical field — regenerative medicine, drug discovery and development, cell-based diagnostics and cancer — the bio-process engineering that will be required to manufacture sufficient quantities of functional stem cells for these diagnostic and therapeutic purposes has not been rigorously explored.
"Successfully integrating knowledge of stem cell biology with bioprocess engineering and process development into single individuals is the challenging goal of this program," said Todd McDevitt, an associate professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University and a Petit Faculty Fellow in the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Biosciences at Georgia Tech.
McDevitt is leading the IGERT with Robert M. Nerem, professor emeritus of the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. Nerem is also director of the Georgia Tech/Emory Center (GTEC) for Regenerative Medicine, which will administer this award.
Professor Robert M. Nerem will address the graduates at Georgia Tech’s 234th commencement on Saturday, August 1, 2009. Approximately 800 undergraduate and graduate students will be recognized at a 9a.m. ceremony at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Robert M. Nerem joined Georgia Tech in 1987 as the Parker H. Petit Distinguished Chair for Engineering in Medicine. He currently serves as director of the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, and director of the Georgia Tech/Emory Center (GTEC) for the Engineering of Living Tissues, an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center. Nerem earned a PhD in 1964 from Ohio State University, where he was promoted to professor in 1972 and served from 1975-1979 as associate dean for Research in the Graduate School. From 1979 to 1986, he was professor and chairman of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston. The author of more than 200 publications, Nerem is a fellow and was the founding president of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (1992-1994), and he is past president of the Tissue Engineering Society International. In addition, he was part-time senior advisor for bioengineering in the new National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the National Institutes of Health (2003-2006).