Jennifer West Wins 2015 Clemson Award

Jennifer West, the Fitzpatrick Family University Professor of Engineering with appointments in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Cell Biology, and Chemistry, has been awarded the 2015 Clemson Award for Basic Research from the Society for Biomaterials.

Clemson Awards are given in honor of the strong traditional ties between the Society for Biomaterials and Clemson University that have existed since 1974. Awardees are selected by the Society for Biomaterials Awards, Ceremonies and Nominations Committee and confirmed by the President of Clemson University.

The award for basic research recognizes outstanding contributions to the basic knowledge and understanding of the interaction of materials with tissue, focusing on theoretical concepts, developing new materials or studying the interactions of a bacterial in a biological environment.

West was cited for “her significant utilization and application of basic knowledge in science to accomplish a significant goal in the biomaterials field.” If this sounds like a broad citation, perhaps that is because West has made important contributions to a wide variety of biomedical fields. A few of her research pursuits include using gold nanoparticles to battle cancer, creating patterned surfaces to control the physical interactions of cultured cells, and engineering biomimetic hydrogels that approximate soft tissues in the body, making them idea substrates for many cell and tissue applications.

“Dr. West has not only defeated the impossible; she has made a significant impact in healthcare management through innovative biomaterials technology,” said Martine LaBerge, PhD, who nominated West for the award, in a Society for Biomaterials news release. “In the past 19 years, she has passed the torch to more than forty PhD graduates and post-doctoral fellows in addition to hundreds of undergraduate students.”

West’s Clemson Award continues a sort of tradition at Pratt, which has had three other winners of the award in recent years:  Kam Leong (2012 Clemson Award for Applied Research), Ashutosh Chilkoti (2011 Clemson Award for Contributions to the Literature), and William “Monty” Reichert (2010 Clemson Award for Basic Research).

“This is the fourth Clemson Award for Duke’s Department of Biomedical Engineering in the past five years,” said West. “This demonstrates the depth of excellence in biomaterials research here in Pratt.”