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UC San Diego Faculty Inducted Into Prestigious Biomedical Institution

Triton professors will join a class of 140 new Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering

Victor Nizet, Sameer Shah, Karsten Zengler and Karen Christman
Victor Nizet, Sameer Shah, Karsten Zengler and Karen Christman

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Three faculty members at the University of California San Diego were inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). Professors Victor Nizet, Karsten Zengler and Sameer Shah are among the 140 new AIMBE Fellows in the class of 2023. In addition, bioengineering professor Karen Christman, already an AIMBE Fellow, received a separate award from the AIMBE for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).

New fellows were recognized in a ceremony as part of the AIMBE Annual Event at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Arlington, Virginia on March 27, 2023.

The College of Fellows is comprised of the top two percent of medical and biological engineers in the United States, including the most accomplished and distinguished engineering and medical school chairs, research directors, professors, innovators and successful entrepreneurs.

“It’s no coincidence that UC San Diego is so well represented in AIMBE, with 37 faculty members who are Fellows,” said Adam J. Engler, Chair of the Shu Chien-Gene Lay Department of Bioengineering at UC San Diego. He is also part of the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. “It’s a testament to our faculty’s passion for scholarship, training and research, as well as a campus environment uniquely supportive of interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation.”

Dr. Victor Nizet
Dr. Victor Nizet

Victor Nizet, MD was nominated, reviewed, and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows “for pioneering basic research in microbial pathogenesis and innate immunity, and for innovative bioengineered treatment strategies for complex infectious diseases.” 

Dr. Victor Nizet is Distinguished Professor and Vice Chair for Basic Research in the Department of Pediatrics, Distinguished Professor of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Chief of the Division of Host-Microbe Systems and Therapeutics at UC San Diego. He also is faculty lead for the UC San Diego Collaborative to Halt Antibiotic-Resistant Microbes (CHARM). His lab work is focused on discovering virulence factors of leading human bacterial pathogens, elucidating mechanisms of host innate immunity and novel approaches to infectious disease therapy. He has authored over 520 peer-reviewed publications and has collaborated with several biotechnology interests in developing new antibiotic and immune-based therapies against drug-resistant pathogens. 

Sameer Shah
Sameer Shah, Ph.D.

Sameer Shah, PhD was nominated, reviewed, and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows “for contributions to the field of neuromuscular biomechanics, specifically in mechanics- based strategies for nerve regeneration, structure-function relationships and imaging.”

Sameer Shah is a Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery at UC San Diego. Leveraging his expertise in the function, dysfunction and plasticity of the nervous and muscular systems, his research enhances surgical decision-making and the development of physical therapy protocols by understanding relationships between the ultrastructure of peripheral nerves and their mechanical and physiological function. He develops tissue engineering and biomedical device-based strategies for peripheral nerve regeneration. Shah received his Ph.D. from the UC San Diego in Bioengineering, in 2002, for his research on biomechanical roles of skeletal muscle intermediate filaments, and stayed on for his postdoctoral training, researching mechanisms of neuronal degeneration and the regulation of axonal transport.

Karsten Zengler, Ph.D.
Karsten Zengler, Ph.D.

Karsten Zengler, Ph.D., was nominated, reviewed and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows “for pioneering contributions to advancing systems biology to microbial communities, host-microbe systems, and for the translation of such advanced techniques.”

Karsten Zengler, is a Professor in Residence of Pediatrics at UC San Diego and a noted pioneer in the field of community systems biology. His work is focused on the interactions of microorganisms with their environment and host organisms. His lab has been at the forefront of developing new protocols for ultra-low input omics approaches to determine the role of the microbiome in health and disease, facilitating a deeper understanding of microbial interactions and the unraveling of mechanisms in microbiome research. Zengler is the author and co-author of more than 100 research articles and reviews and has twenty years of experience in microbiology and systems biology, including seven in the private sector, having cofounded several companies.

Bioengineering professor recognized for spurring diversity

Karen Christman
Karen Christman

Karen Christman, a Professor of Bioengineering, and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Welfare at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, received an award from AIMBE for her achievements in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Christman is also a cofounder of Ventrix Bio, as well as Kairos Technologies. Her work focuses on developing novel biomaterials for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine for applications in cardiovascular disease and women’s health  She mentors a group of diverse trainees, and during her time at UC San Diego, Christman has helped improve graduate student interviewing and recruiting, as well as faculty candidate evaluations, to improve diversity. As Associate Dean in the Jacobs School of Engineering, she implemented annual diversity reports to help departments gain insight and take action. She also created funding opportunities for URM students to attend conferences, co-created the first DEI training for department chairs, and worked to reduce bias in the faculty search process.

“Dr. Christman's efforts both in the department and across the Jacobs School of Engineering as Associate Dean are emblematic of our school’s commitment to building an inclusive environment,” said Engler. “She helped envision our anti-bias efforts in faculty recruitment and in graduate student admissions, and the changes we have implemented from her ideas have helped double the representation of women in our department.”

AIMBE’s mission is to recognize excellence in, and advocate for, the fields of medical and biological engineering to advance society. Since 1991, AIMBE’s College of Fellows has led the way for technological growth and advancement in the fields of medical and biological engineering. Fellows have helped revolutionize medicine and related fields to enhance and extend the lives of people all over the world. They have successfully advocated for public policies that have enabled researchers and business-makers to further the interests of engineers, teachers, scientists, clinical practitioners and patients.

For more information about the AIMBE Annual Event, visit

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