Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic

Principal Investigator

Education Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic received her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Belgrade in Serbia, and specialized in biomedical engineering as a Fulbright Fellow at MIT.

Academic positions She holds the University Professor appointment, the highest academic rank at Columbia University, as the first engineer in the history of Columbia to receive this highest distinction. She is also the Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Medical Sciences, Professor of Dental Medicine and a faculty in the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Center for Human Development She directs the Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, the NIH-funded Tissue Engineering Resource Center, and the Columbia’s Center for Dental and Craniofacial Research. Her laboratory is the bioengineering lead for Columbia University Stem Cell Initiative.

Research Her diverse team of engineers, clinicians, and scientists is developing innovative tissue engineering technologies for improving human health. Her laboratory s interested in whole organ engineering for regenerative medicine (including lung, heart and bone), and “organs-on-a-chip” models of injury and disease (including ischemia, fibrosis and cancer). From these studies, they published 3 books and 465 journal articles, including those in Nature, Cell, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Medicine, Nature Biomedical Engineering, Nature Methods, Nature Communications, Nature Protocols, Science Advances, PNAS, Cell Stem Cell, and Science Translational Medicine. Gordana gave over 550 invited lectures, seminars and keynote presentations, and has over 180 licensed, issued, published and pending patents. She has mentored over 200 trainees, many of which are now leaders in biomedical sciences, bioengineering and medicine, and hold academic and executive positions all around the world.

Entrepreneurship Her laboratory has launched four biotech companies. For her entrepreneurship, she received four NASA awards for patents, an annual inventor award of the European Patent Office in 2021, and was selected as one of the “Power 50” in the New York State in 2021 and one of the BIOS Top 50 Academic Life Science Entrepreneurs in 2022.

Professional service She has served on the NIBIB Council, chaired the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows, and is serving on the Scientific Review Board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, numerous Editorial and Scientific Advisory Boards and Boards of Directors. She chairs the Bioengineering Section of the National Academy of Engineering.

Awards Among her recognitions, Gordana is a Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and a Founding Fellow of the International Society for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine (TERMIS). She was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame, was selected as one of the Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers and was the first woman engineer to give the Director's lecture at the NIH. BMES honored her with the Clemson Award, Pritzker Award and Shu Chien Award. TERMIS honored her with the innovation and commercialization award and the Lifetime Achievement Award. She received the Pierre Galletti Award of the AIMBE, was decorated by the Order of Karadjordje Star - Serbia’s highest honor, and received honorary doctorates in science and engineering in Serbia and USA.

Gordana was elected to nine national and international academies, including the Academia Europaea, the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Inventors, the Royal Society of Canada Academy of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.