Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert, who recently joined the University of Washington as vice dean for Research and Graduate Education at UW Medicine, has also joined UW Bioengineering’s core faculty as a professor, effective July 1.

Sakiyama-Elbert made the move from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, where she served as chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering for the past six years.

In her new role as vice dean, Sakiyama-Elbert will lead UW Medicine’s interdisciplinary and translational research efforts and will oversee educational experiences for graduate students and post-docs in the School of Medicine.

Research on spinal cord regeneration

color image of neural cells

Sprouting neural fibers (green) and transplanted interneurons (red) are embedded in a novel hyaluronic acid/astrocyte extracellular matrix hydrogel following spinal cord injury. Courtesy Sakiyama-Elbert.

Sakiyama-Elbert’s own research focuses on developing new bioactive materials to drive tissue regeneration and cell transplant survival after nervous system injuries. Her lab at UW BioE will continue her work developing techniques to promote functional recovery after spinal cord injury and treat peripheral nerve damage. Her team develops methods to prompt stem cells to give rise to the various neural cells needed for spinal cord regeneration, optimizes cell populations for transplantation, and designs materials for controlled growth factor and drug delivery. Sakiyama-Elbert is also a faculty member at UW’s Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine.

National leader

Sakiyama-Elbert is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Biomedical Engineering Society. She holds 10 patents and is a member of the National Academy of Inventors. Her service includes several professional society leadership roles, such as president of the Society for Biomaterials and Treasurer/2017 Annual Meeting Chair for the Biomedical Engineering Society, and Treasurer of AIMBE.

Prior to her time at UT Austin, Sakiyama-Elbert served as associate chair for Graduate Studies in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and co-director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Washington University in Saint Louis. She received a master’s and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the California Institute of Technology.

Learn more about Sakiyama-Elbert in a recent Q&A with UW Medicine.