News Release

UCSD Bioengineering Pioneer Honored for Advancing Science Across Continents

chien prize

UCSD bioengineering professor Shu Chien has made significant  strides in the field, earning him kudos around the globe.

San Diego, CA, January 5, 2010 -- For Shu Chien – a pioneer in the growing field of bioengineering – understanding and learning the marvels of how the human body works has been the foundation of his decades-long quest to advance science and technology worldwide.  The UC San Diego bioengineering professor’s significant scientific endeavors have paved the way for recognition of his renowned work at the university’s Jacobs School of Engineering and abroad.

In honor of his outstanding achievements in physiology and bioengineering research and education, along with international acclaim as a superb scientist and scholar, the President of the Republic of China in Taiwan recently awarded Chien the 2009 Presidential Science Prize. The award was established nine years ago to recognize innovative researchers who have made monumental contributions to international research in the fields of mathematics and physical sciences, life sciences, social sciences, and applied sciences, especially those scholars whose works have had a major impact on the development and applications of these fields in Taiwan.

Over the last two decades, Chien has played a major role in the remarkable progress in biomedical sciences in Taiwan, including the establishment of first-rate research institutions, initiation of exemplary scientific review system, training of talented young scientists, and fostering world-class research. This was the first time the Presidential Prize was given to a scientist working outside of Taiwan with recognition of not only his scientific achievements, but also contributions to the advancement of science in Taiwan.

As a result of his collaborative work with his colleagues and students in and from Taiwan, Chien has made an important impact on life science research in Taiwan, including the enhancement of the international image of biomedical research in the Asian country. His scientific accomplishments have included setting the foundation for research on blood rheology in heath and disease; and pioneering research on the mechanism of signal transduction and gene expression in response to mechanical forces. In 1987, Chien worked with the medical centers in Taiwan to initiate the Medical Oncology Training Program. This inter-institutional program fostered close interactions among the hospitals through these physician trainees, who have made major contributions to the advancement of medical oncology in Taiwan.  In an effort to help train the next generation of scientists and engineers, Chien has organized many international meetings and workshops to introduce state-of-the-art concepts and technologies to thousands of young scientists and students in Taiwan.


From L to R, Dr. Lo-chun Li, Deputy Chairman of the Presidential Prizes Committee and Chairman, National Science Council of  Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan; Dr. Paul Jen-Kuei Li, Presidential Prize Awardee, Social Sciences; Dr. I Jiu Liao, Presidential Prize Awardee, Applied Sciences; Dr. Shu Chien, Presidential Prize Awardee, Life Sciences; Dr. Chi-huey Wong, Chairman of the Presidential Prizes Committee and President, Academia Sinica; and Dr. Liouyi Liao, Secretary General to the President of ROC in Taiwan.

“My collaborative research in China mainland and in Taiwan has exposed me to many talented young scientists,” Chien said. “It is very stimulating and inspiring to work with these next-generation leaders in science and engineering.”

Meanwhile, Chien, an M.D. and Ph.D., said his early medical education in Taiwan opened the door to the fascinating field of health sciences. 

 “My early education from elementary school to the beginning of premed education in Mainland China provided me with the knowledge base that stimulated my intellectual curiosity and my enjoyment for creativity,” he said. “I learned how we can contribute to the health and well-being of humankind through our dedicated pursuit for new knowledge, with the goals of understanding the marvels of how the human body works, from its genomic details to its totality, and discovering new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent diseases.”

Chien joined the UCSD faculty in 1988 and became the founding chair of the Department of Bioengineering in 1994. He has played a major role in establishing UCSD's bioengineering program as one of the top two programs in the country. As founding director of the Whitaker Institute of Biomedical Engineering at UCSD, Chien helps foster collaborations among university faculty and with research institutes and biomedical companies in San Diego. Chien also heads the new Institute for Engineering Medicine, which has more than 130 outstanding faculty from UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering, Schools of Medicine, and Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, who are working together to translate creative ideas into clinical medicine and novel products that will transform patient care and improve the health and wellbeing of people. 

In his own research, Chien takes a multidisciplinary, integrative approach that combines engineering and biomedical sciences. He employs an array of technologies including nanotechnology, DNA microarrary, bioinformatics, cell biophysics and biomechanics in his research on the cardiovascular system. Chien’s breakthrough discoveries have also kept UCSD’s patent office busy. UCSD was issued a U.S. patent for Chien’s proposed gene therapy to prevent arteries from re-clogging after balloon angioplasty and bypass surgery.

“The Jacobs School provides an excellent research and education environment by having outstanding faculty and superb students, as well as the resources, facilities and support needed to conduct innovative research in the growing and important field of bioengineering,” Chien said. “The collaboration of the Jacobs Schools with the Health Sciences through the Institute of Engineering in Medicine, and with other schools, neighboring institutions and industry, has further enhanced the marvelous environment to make this a perfect place to do cutting edge research.”


Media Contacts

Andrea Siedsma
Jacobs School of Engineering