Jennifer West

Nobel Conference 50
Oct. 7 & 8, 2014

Biomedical engineer Jennifer L. West, PhD – Fitzpatrick Family University Professor of Engineering and professor, Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Biomedical Engineering, Cell Biology, and Chemistry, Duke University, Durham, N.C.; member of the Pratt School of Engineering’s Fitzpatrick Institute for Photonics.

Jennifer West, PhD, is internationally recognized for cutting-edge research in two of bioengineering’s most competitive fields—nanotechnology and tissue engineering. Her research focuses on the synthesis, development, and application of novel biofunctional materials, such as materials for small-diameter vascular grafts that could eliminate the need for doctors to use veins from a patient’s leg for heart bypass surgery. Her lab is developing techniques to use a patient’s own cells to grow replacement blood vessels by synthesizing so-called “scaffold materials,” which mimic extracellular matrices and provide structure for the growth of replacement blood vessels. Another area of her work involves biomedical applications of nanoshells, ultrasmall metallic spheres with special optical properties that may be used in cancer therapy, drug delivery, and medical testing.

West graduated with a BS in chemical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1992) and went on to earn an MS (1994) and PhD (1996) in biomedical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. She joined the faculty of Rice University in Houston, Texas, in 2001 as a founding member of the Department of Bioengineering. In 2005 she was named director of Rice University's Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering (IBB), which fosters cross-disciplinary research and education programs in biology, chemistry, and engineering. In 2012, West joined the faculty at Duke University as the Fitzpatrick Family University Professor of Engineering.

West is the recipient of an NSF Faculty Early Career Development Award recognizing outstanding scientists and engineers who show early and exceptional potential for leadership. In 2004 she won one of the nation’s most competitive and prestigious honors, the Annunzio Award presented by the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation. In 2006, West was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institutes Professor, and in 2008, the Academy of Medicine, Engineering, and Science of Texas honored her with the O’Donnell Prize in Engineering as the top engineer in the state.

West has authored more than 160 research articles and holds fourteen patents (licensed to eight companies). In 2014, she was named a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher, an honor bestowed upon scientists ranking among the top 1 percent most cited for their subject field and year of publication.