Four Biomedical Engineering Faculty Named AIMBE Fellows

 Caption: Elliot Botvinick, Michelle Digman, Wendy Liu and Chang Liu (clockwise from top left) were inducted into the 2022 Class of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Feb. 18, 2022 – Four UC Irvine biomedical engineering faculty – Elliot Botvinick, Michelle Digman, Chang Liu and Wendy Liu –  are among 152 medical and biological engineers who were inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s College of Fellows Class of 2022.

Each was selected for their outstanding contributions in their field. A prestigious professional distinction, the College of Fellows represents the top 2% of medical and biological engineers in the country.

“Induction into AIMBE is a well-deserved honor for these faculty, two of whom are also members of the Edwards Lifesciences Foundation Cardiovascular Innovation and Research Center (CIRC),” said Naomi Chesler, director of the CIRC and an Inclusive Excellence Professor of biomedical engineering, who nominated all four. “It is both a recognition of their research accomplishments and impact to date and an opportunity to contribute to biomedical science policy and public understanding of biomedical science and engineering on a larger stage.”

Professor Botvinick was recognized for work in biophotonics and its use in medical devices and the study of biophysics in cell-tissue interactions. In his research, Botvinick studies the relationship between mechanical stresses on cells and molecular signaling or mechanotransduction.

"I am honored to become an AIMBE fellow,” he said. “I will continue to devote my life to improving our understanding of how cells sense tissues and to develop new technologies to aid in the treatment of diabetes. As an AIMBE fellow, I will embark on the next chapter of my career, which is to invent, develop, test and commercialize unprofitable medical devices for underserved groups, particularly in pediatrics. And more importantly, to build and share the resources for other scientists to do the same."

Associate Professor Digman was acknowledged for her contributions to the development of and applications to fluorescence fluctuation spectroscopy and fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy. Digman’s research focuses on quantitative spatial and temporal correlation spectroscopy, protein dynamics during cell migration, characterizing metabolic alterations in cells and tissues, and developing novel imaging technologies. 

“I am honored to join my colleagues as an AIMBE fellow,” said Digman. “I want to thank my past and present group members, as well as collaborators for making so many things possible during this research journey. I’m also excited to support AIMBE’s mission of advocacy in the field of biomedical engineering. In addition, I want to thank Naomi Chesler, who was vital in all of our nominations, for her support and efforts in contributing to enhancing equity in our department.”

The AIMBE selected Chang Liu, associate professor, for his efforts in the fields of synthetic biology and directed evolution through the invention of in vivo hypermutation systems. He engineers specialized genetic systems that continuously and rapidly mutate user-selected genes in vivo. These systems allow researchers to evolve proteins at unprecedented speed, scale and depth in order to engineer new protein functions, probe the rules of evolution and understand the fundamental sequence-function relationships governing proteins and other macromolecules.

"I am delighted to be elected into the fellowship and look forward to fruitful interactions and endeavors with other members," said Liu.

Professor Wendy Liu was recognized for contributions and service to the cell and tissue engineering community and advancing the field of immune cell mechanobiology. She uses bioengineering approaches to understand how the microenvironment regulates immune cell plasticity and immune-mediated wound healing. She is studying macrophages, innate immune cells that adopt a spectrum of functional phenotypes depending on their context and play a major role in wound healing and disease.

“I am honored and excited to receive this recognition from AIMBE,” she said. “I am also extremely grateful for the wonderful colleagues at UCI who have provided a supportive environment, and all of my collaborators and students who have contributed to our work.” 

AIMBE’s mission is to recognize excellence, advance public understanding, and accelerate medical and biological innovation. Its College of Fellows includes over 1,500 honorees who work in academia, industry, clinical practice and government. The formal induction ceremony will be held during AIMBE’s 2022 Annual Event on March 25.

– Lori Brandt