UW Bioengineering alumna Jane Grande-Allen (Ph.D. ’98) has received the UW College of Engineering’s 2020 Diamond Award for Distinguished Achievement in Academia. The Diamond Awards recognize alumni and friends of the University who have made significant contributions to the field of engineering. Due to public health advisories and ongoing uncertainty about the coronavirus pandemic, event organizers plan to defer the Diamond Award celebrations for the 2020 honorees until spring 2021.
More than five million Americans are diagnosed with heart valve disease each year. An international leader in heart valve biomechanics and mechanobiology research, Dr. Grande-Allen’s work has led to deep understanding of why structural defects of the heart occur and how to develop tissue-engineered alternatives to conventional open-heart surgery to repair and replace diseased heart valves. Her work encompasses the field of structural defects of the heart, such as valve calcification and loss of elasticity.
Dr. Grande-Allen, chair of the Department of Bioengineering at Rice University, is an internationally recognized expert in extracellular matrix in cardiac valves, particularly proteoglycans, using a range of technologies including genetic engineering, 3D tissue culture, and micro- and nanofabrication approaches. Her visionary work revealed the unique role that proteoglycans play in cardiac structure, function and disease biology. She has developed numerous innovative bioreactor and biomaterial platforms that allow the investigation of the mechanobiology of healthy, diseased, young, and old heart valves. Her innovations have been instrumental in collaborative research with clinicians to study heart valves and blood vessels, as well as intestinal wall and lung cancer. The contributions of her research program have enabled advances in regenerative medicine that have impacted the lives of countless patients.
Dr. Grande-Allen received her Ph.D. in bioengineering from the UW in 1998. Following a post-doctoral research fellowship, she joined Rice University as an assistant professor. She was named the Isabel C. Cameron Professor in 2014, served as faculty adviser to the president, and in 2016 was named director of the Institute of Biosciences and BioEngineering and department chair in 2017. In her tenure as chair of the Department of Bioengineering, she has grown the faculty, expanded research and teaching space, revised the undergraduate curriculum and secured more than $24 million in startup package funding to recruit new faculty to Rice. Jane has authored more than 135 publications, and her research program has received more than $10 million in funding from the NSF, NIH and the American Heart Association.