Dawen Zhao, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, has been named the second Wells Fargo Faculty Scholar. The Wells Fargo Faculty Scholars Program accelerates innovative research at the Medical Center and at Wake Forest University.
Zhao, a highly accomplished scientist with a strong research program in brain tumor-targeted nanoplatform research, has a joint appointment in cancer biology and membership in Wake Forest Baptist’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. He joined Wake Forest Baptist in September after serving on the graduate school faculty in biomedical engineering at the University of Texas-Southwestern and the University of Texas-Dallas.
During his distinguished academic career, Zhao has published widely in his areas of research, which include: the development of brain tumor-targeted nanodelivery system for multimodal molecular imaging and treatment; in vivo imaging of tumor microenvironment; and the investigation of genetic and epigenetic factors associated with tumor aggressiveness by correlating molecular and immunohistological study with in vivo imaging.
“Dr. Zhao’s work in nanotherapeutics, medicine at the molecular scale, aims at developing imaging techniques to ensure that a drug is delivered precisely to its target. He is a very important addition to our research in biomedical engineering and in cancer. He has an exceptional record as a scientist, as evidenced by his current and previous research projects, innovation and productivity,” said Edward Abraham, M.D., dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine.
Zhao’s research involves the development of image-guided brain cancer-targeted nanotherapeutics and imaging techniques that monitor drug distribution after systemic administration.
The Wells Fargo Foundation established the Faculty Scholars Program in 2011 with a $2.5 million grant. The program funds the recruitment of faculty whose research shows promise for generating significant intellectual property and regionally based commercialization efforts as either start-up or spin-off companies.
“We are pleased to support Dr. Zhao and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center,” said Juan Austin, senior vice president of the Wells Fargo Foundation. “His innovative research demonstrates the attributes and promise of the Wells Fargo Faculty Scholar Endowment, through which we demonstrate our strong commitment to our role in sustaining economic vitality in this region and this state.”
Wells Fargo Faculty Scholars may have appointments at Wake Forest University, Wake Forest Baptist or both institutions, and will likely conduct a portion of their research at Wake Forest Innovation Quarter. The endowment helps cover the recruitment, salary, benefits, laboratory equipment, research and travel costs associated with the scholar’s work.
Zhao will contribute to teaching and education at Wake Forest and Virginia Tech through the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.
Zhao’s appointment as the Wells Fargo Faculty Scholar was determined by an eight-person committee that included faculty from both Wake Forest University and Wake Forest Baptist and King Li, M.D., senior associate dean for clinical and translational research and the inaugural Wells Fargo Faculty Scholar.
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