Two Rice professors named AIMBE fellows


Ma, Zygourakis recognized for research in computational and theoretical biology

Special to the Rice News

Rice professors Jianpeng Ma and Kyriacos Zygourakis have been elected fellows of the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering (AIMBE).


AIMBE fellows are nominated annually by their peers and represent the top 2 percent of the medical and biological engineering community. In addition to medical and biological engineers, AIMBE represents academic institutions, private industry and professional engineering societies. Ma and Zygourakis will be inducted into the 2012 class of fellows during a ceremony at AIMBE’s 21st annual event in Washington, D.C., Feb. 19-21.

Ma, professor of bioengineering at Rice and the Lodwick T. Bolin Professor of Biochemistry at Baylor College of Medicine, will be honored for “seminal contributions to the molecular bioengineering and biophysics fields, particularly in the development of multiscale computational methods for studying flexible supramolecular complexes.”

To conduct his investigations in computational biophysics and structural biology, Ma develops mathematical algorithms for the computer simulation of supramolecular complexes. In particular, his methods for structural refinement at lower resolutions, such as X-ray crystallography to decipher the exact 3-D arrangement of atoms, have profoundly impacted the field of molecular biophysics.

Zygourakis, the A.J. Hartsook Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, professor of bioengineering and chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, will be recognized “for seminal contributions and visionary leadership in the application of engineering principles toward the elucidation of cell and tissue dynamics.”


With multiscale simulations and experimental studies, Zygourakis tries to understand the complex interplay between cell population dynamics and extracellular mass transport that guides the formation of three-dimensional tissues. Simulations with his hybrid models reveal that intricate multicellular patterns can result from spatial variations in the extracellular concentrations of nutrients or growth factors and the resulting cell population heterogeneity. A better understanding of the dynamics of these cellular systems can speed up the development of functional bioartificial tissue substitutes.

— Shawn Hutchins is a Web coordinator and staff writer for the George R. Brown School of Engineering.

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