Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic Named University Professor
Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:
I am pleased to announce my appointment of Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic to the rank of University Professor, our highest academic honor. Professor Vunjak-Novakovic is currently Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Professor of Medical Sciences, and director of Columbia’s Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering located at the University Medical Center. She has been a pioneer in the engineering of functional human tissue for use in regenerative medicine. The discoveries emerging from her laboratory have led to new approaches for treating injuries and complex diseases and also have supported the development and evaluation of therapeutic drugs.
Yet referencing the impact of these discoveries on society and human health, impressive as they are, provides only a partial account of Professor Vunjak-Novakovic’s many contributions to this institution, higher education, and the world beyond. Professor Vunjak-Novakovic is an academic partner to numerous investigators at Columbia and other universities, an advisor sought by government and industry, a mentor deeply admired by junior faculty, clinical fellows, and postdoctoral researchers; and the entrepreneurial founder of three public-spirited biotechnology companies. She is the first of Columbia’s female faculty members to be elected to the National Academy of Engineering and also the first woman engineer to deliver the Director’s Lecture at the National Institutes of Health.
These accomplishments followed Professor Vunjak-Novakovic’s completion of a PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Belgrade and her relocation to the United States after receiving a Fulbright Fellowship. Her journey eventually brought her to Columbia, where she has graced our University community for the past dozen years. Throughout that time, Professor Vunjak-Novakovic has displayed a special talent for crossing disciplinary boundaries in service of scientific discovery, an inclination that will serve her well as University Professor. I know we all join in offering Professor Vunjak-Novakovic our warmest congratulations on receiving this high honor.
Lee C. Bollinger