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Rice BIOE announces the 2014 Alumni Awards in Bioengineering

By Shawn Hutchins
Rice BIOE News

The Rice University Department of Bioengineering announces the recipients of its alumni awards. The 2014 awardees are: John Frangos for Distinguished Bioengineering Alumnus, Kurt Kasper for Outstanding Graduate Alumnus and Amaan Mazhar for Outstanding Undergraduate alumnus.

Frangos_webJohn A. Frangos (Rice Ph.D. ‘86) is president, chief executive officer, scientific director and founder of La Jolla Bioengineering Institute (LJBI). The thrust of the institute’s research is to determine how mechanical forces play a role in normal physiology and in the progression of disease from within the cell to blood vessels, bone, and muscle.

Frangos is a pioneer in the field of mechanochemical signal transduction in cardiovascular and skeletal systems. His work toward understanding how mechanical forces induced by blood flow, or loading control development, physiology and pathology, has resulted in more than 120 peer-reviewed publications. He has been cited 7500 times, is the holder of six issued patents, and has served on numerous editorial and scientific boards.

In 2002, Frangos founded LJBI and has nurtured its growth into a research organization with seven NIH-supported principal investigators. His lab has received significant government research funding and has contributed greatly to the understanding of cardiovascular disease, transfusion medicine as well as cerebral malaria, chronic traumatic encephalopathy and traumatic brain injury.

Frangos has a B.E.S. in chemical engineering from Johns Hopkins University and an M.S. in chemical engineering from Stanford University. He earned a Ph.D. from Rice University in chemical engineering with former Professor Larry V. McIntire serving as his adviser.

100709_Kasper_webKurt Kasper (Rice Ph.D. ‘06) is an assistant professor in the Department of Orthodontics at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston (UTHealth). He is also an adjunct assistant professor of Rice’s Department of Bioengineering and of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at UTHealth.

Kasper’s work in medical education and biomedical research focuses on the development of novel biomaterials and approaches for the regeneration of orthopedic tissues, including bone and cartilage. In recent work funded by the Department of Defense, he and collaborators at Rice and the Texas Medical Center are developing methods to facilitate the growth of large volumes of bone tissue for craniofacial reconstruction. Kasper also serves as principal investigator of a project sponsored by the NIH to develop an injectable mixture of polymers, adult stem cells and biologically active factors to promote the regeneration of injured cartilage.

Kasper earned his Ph.D. in bioengineering from Rice University in 2006 under Professor Antonios Mikos’ supervision. He graduated magna cum laude in 1999 from Case Western Reserve University with a B.S. in biomedical engineering.

AmaanPhoto_webAmaan Mazhar (Rice B.S. and B.A. ‘05) is the director of research and development for Modulated Imaging Inc. (MI Inc.), a developer of light-based techniques for non-invasive diagnostic and therapeutic monitoring applications in medicine.

Mazhar has a Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) in biomedical engineering where he coauthored numerous publications and presentations describing the spatial frequency domain imaging, or SFDI. He was a graduate student researcher and postdoctoral fellow at UCI’s Beckman Laser Institute under the direction of Professor Bruce Tromberg, Associate Professor Anthony Durkin and Associate Professor Bernard Choi. This research is the basis of current commercialization efforts by MI Inc. and has resulted in Phase II Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) awards from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense (DoD).

Mazhar has a B.S. in bioengineering and a B.A. in managerial studies from Rice University. While at Rice, he was an undergraduate researcher of former Associate Professor Bahman Anvari and physician John Oghalai.