Laura Niklason, PhD’88, chair of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) Advisory Council, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering for her work in cardiovascular tissue engineering, lung regeneration, and biomedical imaging. Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions awarded to an engineer.
Niklason, the Nicholas M. Greene Professor at Yale University, is recognized as a global expert in cellular therapies and regenerative medicine. Her research focuses primarily on regenerative strategies for cardiovascular and lung tissues, and the impact of biomechanical and biochemical signals of tissue differentiation and development. Her engineered blood vessels are currently in clinical trial and are the first life-sustaining engineered tissue to be studied in any Phase III clinical trial.
“I’m delighted and surprised to receive such a high honor,” said Niklason. “Many of my most respected colleagues are members of the National Academy of Engineering, and it is a wonderful opportunity to join them in this important institution.”
“Laura is one of the foremost biomedical engineers in the nation. She is a pioneer in the field of regenerative tissue engineering and the co-founder of a very promising early stage company,” said Matthew Tirrell, dean of Pritzker Molecular Engineering. “PME has benefited tremendously from her leadership of our advisory council. I congratulate her on this well-deserved award and thank her for her work on behalf of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering.”
In 2017, Niklason was named one of Fortune's 34 Leaders Who Are Changing Health Care for her work in regenerative medicine. She was elected a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2014, and her research on lab-grown lungs was recognized as one of the top 50 most important inventions of 2010 by Time Magazine. Niklason was inducted into the National Academy of Medicine in 2016.
Niklason founded Humacyte, Inc., a regenerative medical technology company that develops novel, human acellular matrix products for vascular and non-vascular applications. Humacyte won the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Innovators Award and the Frost & Sullivan Growth, Innovation & Leadership Award in 2011, and was listed in CNBC’s 2016 Disruptor 50 list of most innovative companies.
In recognition of her and her husband’s philanthropy, the Brady W. Dougan and Laura E. Niklason House in Campus North Residential Commons was named for them. Niklason and Dougan have provided support for the New Leaders Odyssey Scholarship, Jeff Metcalf Internship, UChicago Careers in Business programs, and the Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong.
Niklason received her PhD in biophysics and theoretical biology from the University of Chicago, and her MD from the University of Michigan. She completed her residency training in anesthesia and intensive care unit medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and completed postdoctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She went on to a faculty position at Duke University before eventually moving to Yale.