Dacheng Ren Named Interim Director of the SBI
Dacheng Ren, professor of biomedical and chemical engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, has been named interim director of the Syracuse Biomaterials Institute (SBI). In this leadership role, Ren will oversee all day-to-day operations of the institute, an interdisciplinary collaboration of faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences and College of Engineering and Computer Science.
“Since its inception here at Syracuse, the SBI has been a hub for intellectual collaboration that taps the expertise of both science and engineering faculty to pursue solutions to urgent healthcare challenges,” says Interim Vice President for Research Peter Vanable. “Dacheng has shown a deep commitment to this work and to the shared physical and intellectual space that drives innovation and discovery with real-world ramifications. I am grateful to him for taking on this responsibility, and I am confident the SBI will be in good hands during this period of transition.”
Ren has been a member of the biomedical and chemical engineering faculty since 2006. He also serves as director of the chemical engineering graduate program and holds courtesy appointments in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences. He has been a member of the SBI faculty collaboration since its inception, with his research activity focusing on microbe-surface interactions, cell-cell signaling, device-associated infections, sensors for pathogen detection, novel biofilm inhibitors and surface modification for biofilm control. Ren is a past recipient of an NSF CAREER award and a 2014 recipient of a Faculty Excellence Award from the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
Established at Syracuse in 2007 and housed in Bowne Hall, the SBI comprises a highly collaborative roster of faculty spanning eight academic units as well as researchers from SUNY-ESF and SUNY Upstate Medical University. About 35 faculty and 150 students, on average, are involved with the SBI, pursuing both fundamental and applied research. Key areas of research include, among others, new technologies for joint replacement and soft tissue repair, fundamental research into the interactions between biological matter and nonliving materials, as well as studies of cell behavior to better understand the progression of diseases such as cancer or asthma.
Through 2014, the SBI has received about $13 million in external funding from federal, state, corporate and foundation sources. The collaborative nature of the institute has been key to securing some of that funding, including a five-year, $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to train doctoral students from the College of Arts and Sciences and College of Engineering and Computer Science to reach across traditional fields of study in their research. Another NSF-funded research project draws on the expertise of faculty from physics and biomedical and chemical engineering to probe cell behavior and how it might be manipulated to alter the course of disease.
Ren has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from University of Connecticut. His appointment as interim director follows the departure of Patrick Mather, the SBI’s first director, in June to take a position as dean of engineering at Bucknell University. The University plans to launch a search for a permanent director of the SBI in the near future.