Athanasiou’s Research Contributions Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

UCI Distinguished Professor Kyriacos A. Athanasiou will receive the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society.

Jan. 12, 2023 - Kyriacos A. Athanasiou, UC Irvine Distinguished Professor of biomedical engineering, will be awarded the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS).

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a society member who has contributed immensely to the tissue engineering and regenerative medicine field and whose work has impacted and assisted with laying the foundation for the field.

Through his work, Athanasiou has enormously impacted health science and technology, addressing significant societal needs through the development of life-saving technologies. The senior academic researcher has spent his career inventing biomimetic tissues for use in treating damaged knees, jaw joints, hips, shoulders and other joints. Along the way he has become a leading authority on the process of translating engineering innovations into commercially available medical instruments, devices and biologics. 

“This is a recognition of our group’s work in developing new paradigms of tissue-engineering,” said Athanasiou. “The traditional approach describes the use of cells into or onto scaffolds and exposed to various stimuli. Our work has identified scaffold-free approaches as strongly effective toward fabricating tissues that are similar to native tissues. Dozens of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows have worked on establishing the use of cells and external factors to make soft hydrated tissues of exceptional quality. This award belongs to them.”

Athanasiou is well-known for making implants that help cartilage heal and repair itself. His scaffolds provided the first cartilage implant to treat joint defects and have also been used as bone and dental fillers. Athanasiou’s approach has been to create cartilage constructs to fill in cracks and defects in joints, allowing for the return of smooth, pain-free movement. His functional, tissue-engineered cartilage replacements can be put to use all over the body – from nose to spine, ears, knees, hips and shoulders. His group published work demonstrating for the first time complete healing of tissues in the jaw joint using these cartilage implants.

Athanasiou most recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2020 and was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors in 2014. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering; and the Biomedical Engineering Society, of which he was president (2003-04). He has published 380 peer-reviewed articles, 360 conference proceedings and abstracts, 20 books, and 35 patents and trademarks. 

Athanasiou will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award during the 2023 TERMIS-Americas conference, held April 11-14, in Boston. After the presentation, Athanasiou will give a talk about his work.

TERMIS brings together the international community of persons engaged or interested in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine and promotes education and research within the field through regular meetings, publications and other forms of communication. The society also serves as an international forum to promote the informed discussion of challenges and therapeutic benefits of the application of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine technologies.

– Lori Brandt