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UTSA biomedical engineer Rena Bizios receives highest honors in her field

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(Aug. 6, 2014) -- Rena Bizios, a Peter T. Flawn Professor in the UTSA Department of Biomedical Engineering, recently received two prestigious awards for her life-long contributions to the biomaterials field and to biomedical engineering education.

The first, the 2014 Founders Award of the Society for Biomaterials, is the highest recognition for life contributions by a leading scientist/engineer in the biomaterials field. Bizios was recognized for seminal contributions in cell-material interactions, protein/cell interactions with nanostructured materials, cellular engineering, and for identifying the effects of select biophysical stimuli on new tissue formation at the cellular/molecular levels.

Bizios' second honor, is the 2014 Theo C. Pilkington Outstanding Educator Award from the Biomedical Engineering Division of the American Society for Engineering Education. She was honored for her contributions to education, leadership, and research in biomedical engineering.

During her career in academia, she has developed and taught undergraduate and graduate biomedical engineering courses and co-authored a landmark undergraduate textbook, "An Introduction to Tissue-Biomaterial Interactions."

The textbook is a standard in the biomaterials field and has been adopted for upper-class undergraduate and beginning graduate courses by several biomedical engineering programs in the United States and abroad. She also has advised generations of undergraduate and graduate biomedical engineering students and has mentored graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty.

Bizios is a leading authority on cellular engineering and cell interactions with biomaterials. During her career, she has contributed to the design of materials that control, modulate and direct various cellular and molecular responses at the cell/material interface. She developed and established several assays to test the cytocompatibility of materials using cultured-cell models and to determine the cellular/molecular level conditions needed to promote new tissue formation.

She also pioneered research about protein and cell interactions on new biomaterial formulations, specifically nanoceramics and nanocomposites, which have unique biocompatibility and improved mechanical and electrical properties. Her research includes pioneering studies on the effect of pressure on functions of cells pertinent to the physiology and pathology of soft tissues and on the use of mechanical and electrical stimuli to promote bone and tissue engineering.

Bizios has published her research and is frequently invited to speak at universities, to industry and at national and international conferences.

Her professional career includes generous and long-standing service to engineering at the departmental, university, regional, national and international levels. She has served on numerous committees and held elected officer positions in several societies including the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), Society for Biomaterials, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).

She is an elected fellow of five professional societies, specifically, AIMBE, Society for Biomaterials, BMES, AIChE and the American Society for the Advancement of Science.

Bizios earned a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), a Master of Chemical Engineering Degree from the California Institute of Technology and her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from M.I.T.

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