Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic is University Professor at Columbia University, which is the highest academic rank reserved for a small number of faculty who serve the university as a whole. She is also the Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Medicine, and a faculty member in the Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Center for Human Development. She directs the Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, acts as the lead for bioengineering at the Columbia Stem Cell Initiative, and serves on the Columbia University President’s Task Force for Precision Medicine. She obtained her Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of Belgrade in Serbia, holds an additional doctorate honoris causa, and was a Fulbright Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She participated in the longest tissue-engineering study in space and served as a scientific lead for MIT for the development of the cell culture system for the International Space Station.
The focus of her research is on engineering functional human tissues for regenerative medicine and studies of development and disease. With more than 36,000 citations and an impact factor of h=109, she is one of the most highly cited individuals of all time and in all disciplines. With her students, she has 82 licensed, issued, or pending patents and has founded three biotech companies: epiBone (http://epibone.com), Tara Biosystems Inc (http://tarabiosystems.com), and East River Biosolutions (http://eastriverbio.com).
Among her many recognitions, Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic was elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), where she was the Chair of the College of Fellows (2016–17), was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame “for developing biological substitutes to restore, maintain or improve tissue function,” and received the Biomaterials Society’s Clemson Award “for significant contributions to the literature on biomaterials.” She was the first woman engineer to give the Director’s Lecture at the NIH. She was elected to the Academia Europaea and the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. She is a Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society, a Fellow of the AAAS, a Founding Fellow of the International Society for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, one of Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers for 2014, and the recipient of the Pritzker Award of the Biomedical Engineering Society. Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Inventors, making her the only woman at Columbia University to receive these three highest recognitions.