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BioInspired Institute Appoints New Associate Director

James Henderson, associate professor of biomedical and chemical engineering, will help lead Universitywide Institute for Material and Living Systems.

Jay Henderson portrait.

The BioInspired Institute at Syracuse University is pleased to announce the appointment of James “Jay” Henderson as associate director. He will work closely with BioInspired’s director, M. Lisa Manning, to advance the institute’s research mission—addressing global challenges in health, medicine and materials innovation.

Henderson succeeds Dacheng Ren, who has been named interim associate dean for research and graduate programs in the College of Engineering and Computer Science .

“It is with extraordinary gratitude that I thank Dacheng for his leadership,” says Manning, also the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences . “Likewise, I am thrilled to collaborate with Jay in his new capacity. He is an ardent champion of interdisciplinary collaboration, skilled at bringing together people with different backgrounds and perspectives.”

In his new role, Henderson will interface with BioInspired’s executive committee and research group leaders, the latter of whom oversee the institute’s four interdisciplinary areas: Drug Discovery, the Mechanics of Development and Disease, Smart Materials, and Form and Function. He also will collaborate with participating faculty members from Syracuse University, the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and SUNY Upstate Medical University.

Henderson is particularly excited to liaise with Syracuse University’s Office of Research, Office of Academic Affairs, Office of Sponsored Programs and Office of Technology Transfer, and hopes to leverage extramural funding to foster student and faculty research opportunities.

“The BioInspired Institute plays a crucial role in advancing the research mission of the University, and I am very pleased that Jay is joining the leadership team of the institute. He is the right person to promote interdisciplinary collaborative research, one of the institute’s missions,” says Ramesh Raina, the University’s interim vice president for research.

“During this time of extraordinary global and societal change, I am honored to work with Lisa and the rest of institute to further our mission, vision and values,” Henderson says. “Only by embracing diversity, inclusion and equity can we harness the full range of human creativity to address today’s most pressing problems.”

A mechanical engineer by training, Henderson joined the Engineering and Computer Science faculty in 2008. He has since risen to the position of associate professor of biomedical and chemical engineering and has served as director of the bioengineering graduate program for eight years. Henderson also holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Biology in Arts and Sciences.

Only by embracing diversity, inclusion and equity can we harness the full range of human creativity to address today’s most pressing problems.

Much of his work combines experimental and computational approaches to mechanobiology, an emerging field at the interface of biology, physics and engineering. “The more applied aspects of our work focus on tissue engineering and regenerative medicine,” says Henderson, the holder of multiple patents. “We seek to improve treatments for people suffering from ACL tears as well as various diseases, such as arthritis or cancer.”

Henderson’s many grant awards include a recent one from the National Science Foundation, supporting his research into shape-memory polymers—long, repeating chains of molecules that can be programmed to change shape during their intended function. Such work, he says, has the potential to revolutionize the biomedical, aerospace and energy industries.

In addition to BioInspired, Henderson is affiliated with the Soft Matter Group in the Department of Physics, the Aging Studies Institute in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, the Syracuse Veterans Administration Medical Center, and the Upstate Cancer Center at SUNY Upstate Medical University.

Henderson is the author or co-author of dozens of research articles and is a highly sought-after mentor, consultant and presenter. He earned a Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Rob Enslin

This story was published on .

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