Alum Jennifer West Named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

jennifer west

Jennifer L. West has been named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. West, who received both an M.S. (1994) and Ph.D. (1996) in biomedical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering, is the the Fitzpatrick Family University Professor of Engineering and associate dean for Ph.D. Education in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University.

Election to NAI Fellow status is a high professional distinction accorded to renowned academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.

West’s research focuses on the development of novel biomaterials and tissue engineering to address biological problems, such as glaucoma to cancer. Recent pursuits include creating patterned surfaces to control the physical interactions of cultured cells and developing artificial “micro-environments” that can mimic living tissues, making them ideal substrates for many cell and tissue applications.

Another active area of research is using gold nanoparticles tuned to absorb certain wavelengths of infrared light to heat and destroy cancerous tumors. While the original nanoparticles are already in clinical trials, West recently improved on her design by adding an extremely thin layer of hydrogels to the surface that, when heated, lose their water content and release any molecules (such as drugs) trapped within.

Earlier in 2016, West was inducted into the National Academy of Engineers. She also serves on the UT Austin Department of Biomedical Engineering’s External Advisory Committee.