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For bioengineer Shu Chien, honors come in threes

Bioengineering professor Shu Chien

Bioengineering professor Shu Chien has a fascination for numbers. At a September 15, 2006 ceremony celebrating his appointment as the inaugural holder of the Y.C. Fung Endowed Chair in Bioengineering, Chien explained that UCSD bioengineering professor emeritus Fung, who turned 87 that day, is actually a year older according to the Chinese custom of adding a year to one's age. And 88 is a special "rice birthday” because the number resembles the Chinese character for rice.

Chien's special number is three. His tenure at UCSD spans three decades. The bioengineering department he founded at the Jacobs School is consistently ranked as one of the top three in the U.S., and the professor of bioengineering is a member of all three U.S. national academies (National Academy of Engineering (NAE), Institute of Medicine, and National Academy of Sciences ). Fung also is a member of all three, so he and Chien account for roughly one-third of all those who belong to the three national academies.

This fall, Chien received a trio of additional awards, the Fung chair, election to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the NAE's prestigious 2006 Founders Award "for outstanding contributions to elucidating the engineering foundation of cardiovascular dynamics, and integrating engineering and biomedical sciences for the development of the biomedical engineering profession."

The Y.C. Fung chair was made possible through generous gifts by Fung's students, colleagues and friends as well as the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, Senyei Family Foundation, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Ltd.