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Jerome Schultz

Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering
Chair, Department of Bioengineering
Jerry Schultz
Bioengineering Frontiers
Advancing the frontiers of bioengineering to foster breakthroughs in medical sciences is Professor Schultz’s life work. The founder of centers, departments and national organizations dedicated to biomedical engineering, he enjoys a distinguished international reputation for his contributions to biosensor and synthetic membrane sciences.

Areas of Expertise

Select Honors and Distinctions

  • “One Hundred Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era,” American Institute of Chemical Engineering (2008)
  • Fellow, Biomedical Engineering Society (2005)
  • Marvin J. Johnson Biotechnology Award, American Chemical Society (2000)
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (1997)
  • National Academy of Engineering, Member (1994)
  • Founding Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (1992)


Q: What are the big challenges researchers in your field are trying to answer?
The ultimate challenge is to develop a suite of nano-sensors that can be placed in the body to report on any unusual activity there. This type of early warning system would go a long way toward real preventative medicine, making it possible to take action on looming medical problems before they become acute. Of course, miniature sensors are already commonly used by engineers to detect problems in complex systems such as cars, airplanes, bridges and chemical plants.

Q: Biocellular engineering is a particular strength of UCR’s Department of Bioengineering. What is this and why is it an exciting field of endeavor?
Biocellular engineers modify cells to carry out specific functions. For example, we can now put genes into cells to produce specific drugs such as insulin. As we learn more about the internal architecture and anatomy of cells, we will be able to design cells with new and unexpected capabilities. A limiting factor in this field is how well we can see structures inside cells, especially in microorganisms, at which scale we’re near the limits of the wavelength of light. We’re working on new imaging techniques for this, a cellular “CAT” scan, if you will, much like the scans radiologist use on people.

Q: In your career, you have blazed new trails multiple times as an administrative leader. Which of your many accomplishments are you most proud of?
There are three things I’m particularly proud of: Founding the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering; founding the department of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, and growing the journal Biotechnology Progress.

I was one of about 10 bioengineers responsible for the formation of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. This society is now the national voice for bioengineering and has a College of Fellows, the “1000 individuals who are the outstanding bioengineers in academia, industry and government.” I was the third president of this society.

I was the founding chair of the department of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh and founding director of the Center for Biotechnology and Bioengineering there, creating a close working relationship between the department and the School of Medicine that led to a Whitaker Foundation grant totaling about $7 million. Currently, the U.S. News & World Report ranking of the Pitt graduate program is 12th overall and 6th among public institutions.

When I became editor-in-chief of Biotechnology Progress 20 years ago, it was a quarterly magazine that published about 30 articles annually. Now it is an international journal that publishes about 200 articles a year from leading researchers around the world.

Q: What movies, documentaries or TV programs have you recently found interesting and/or inspiring?
My current favorite TV show is “The Good Wife.” My favorite singer is Cher, and I was pleased to see her recent comeback in the movie “Burlesque.”

Q: In your spare time, what are you reading (books, blogs, Twitter accounts, websites, etc.). What makes these interesting for you?
I enjoy reading detective novels with local settings (e.g. Michael Connelly, historical novels, e.g. Jeff Sahaara, and The Kite Runner was particularly good.

Q: Do you have a personal hero? Who and why?
My personal hero is Elmer L. Gaden, who was my undergraduate advisor at Columbia. He introduced me to the field of biochemical engineering and became my graduate advisor. He was one of the first engineers who dared to open the “black box” of biology and attempt to apply engineering analysis to microbiological systems. He instilled in me the confidence to approach biology from an engineering point of view and encouraged me to leave engineering and take my Ph.D. in biochemistry to be better prepared for the emerging field of bioengineering.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but his innovative approach to microbial processes was adopted by the major drug companies and was a major contribution to the cost-effective large scale production of antibiotics. When I came to understand the impact of his work, I nominated him for the National Academy of Engineering Russ Prize. This is the bioengineering equivalent of the Nobel Prize with an award of $500,000. Last year I was very pleased that the engineering community shared my regard for him in awarding him the coveted prize.
Jerry Schultz “Every day I have the opportunity to meet with students and excite their imagination for becoming innovators of the future.”

—Jerome Schultz
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