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Interim director of MUSC-Clemson bioengineering named

Staff Report

Interim director of Clemson University-MUSC Bioengineering Program

Hai Yao, Ph.D., associate chair and associate professor of bioengineering at Clemson University and associate professor in the Department of Oral Health Sciences at the MUSC College of Dental Medicine, has been named interim director of the Clemson University–MUSC Bioengineering Program. Yao succeeds Richard E. Swaja, Ph.D., who served as director from 2006 until his retirement in late December 2013. 

“I believe Hai Yao will provide important leadership to bioengineering on the MUSC campus as interim director while we conduct a national search for a permanent director,” said Mark Sothmann, Ph.D., MUSC interim president and provost.

Yao’s primary research interests relate to the biomechanical function, degeneration and repair of cartilaginous tissues such as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disc, knee cartilage, intervertebral disc, and cornea, with an emphasis on understanding the impact of mechanical loading on tissue nutrition and cell metabolism. His research contributed to the world’s first demonstration of a functional full synovial joint regeneration (Lancet, 2010), and his team also established a nationally recognized TMJ research program within the CU–MUSC Bioengineering Program. He currently leads the National Institutes of Health TMJ expert panel, which provides research recommendations to the scientific community, encouraging contemporary, multidisciplinary research on TMJ function in health and disease.

Recently, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research awarded a planning grant to Yao for the establishment of a multi-institutional TMJ research network. Yao also serves on an engineering panel for the National Research Council of the National Academies. He received bachelor’s (1991) and doctoral (1996) degrees in mechanical engineering from Xi’an Jiaotong University in China and his doctoral degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Miami (2004). He joined the faculty of Clemson Bioengineering in 2006 after postdoctoral training at Georgia Institute of Technology.

The CU–MUSC Bioengineering program was established in 2003 and renewed in 2013 through an inter-institutional agreement made between Clemson and MUSC. The program’s mission is to bridge engineering and physical sciences with the life sciences disciplines to better understand fundamental biological and disease processes by:

  • Application of engineering and physical science principles to biological systems;
  • Advances in health care and biomedical technologies through multi–disciplinary and translational research; and
  • Education and preparation of students for careers in bioengineering and related fields.

The collaborative program yields advances in health care and biomedical technologies that benefit the citizens of South Carolina and the U.S.; generates new sources of revenue for both CU and MUSC; and stimulates economic development through transfer and commercialization of these advances. Located in the Bioengineering Building on the MUSC campus, the overall institutional leadership of the program is charged to the MUSC and Clemson provosts.

March 14, 2014

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