Stefan Duma, the John Jones III Fellow and professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech, will serve as the new head of the Virginia Tech–Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, effective Aug. 10, 2009.

Duma, the founding director of the Virginia Tech–Wake Forest Center for Injury Biomechanics, joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 2000. He leads a research program that now exceeds $5 million annually. The Center for Injury Biomechanics is already considered the world leader in the field of injury biomechanics.

“Dr. Duma was selected from a very strong pool of applicants. In consultation with Bill Applegate, dean of Wake Forest University’s School of Medicine; and Gerhardt Schurig, dean of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, we agreed Dr. Duma was the leading candidate,” said Richard Benson, dean of the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech. “He had fabulous support from both campuses.”

In announcing the appointment, Benson also confirmed that biomedical engineering will now become a department within the college. “A portion of [the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences] already operates within the college with dedicated faculty and administrative support, and it has space in the new Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science building on campus,” Benson said. Duma will also lead the biomedical engineering department.

At Wake Forest, a biomedical engineering department within the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences already exists. Virginia Tech computer science alumnus Pete Santago chairs Wake Forest University’s biomedical engineering department. Santago also serves on Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering Advisory Board.

The School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences was formally created in 2001, filling gaps at both universities. Wake Forest had long sought to add an engineering program, and Virginia Tech’s engineering faculty members were seeking access to a medical school and its biomedical researchers. Faculty members in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine were also among the initial collaborators.

The school was the first initiative of Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, a multi-disciplinary institute that fosters the development of high growth opportunities within the university’s engineering and physical sciences disciplines.

“In the less than 10 years Stefan Duma has served on our faculty, he has built an extraordinary teaching and research program. As a junior faculty member who reached full professor status in six years, Dr. Duma has exhibited extraordinary leadership abilities. He has illustrated the importance of building interdisciplinary projects, leading to constant improvement and successes for our [School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences] program,” Benson said.

Duma said his vision for the school is “to be a top 25 program within five years and a top 10 program in 10 years. I am excited about the opportunity to lead it to the next level, and to become a world leader in biomedical engineering research and education. We have a world-class group of faculty and students, and it will be an honor to help advance their careers.”

Duma, as a member of the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences program, has already conducted a benchmarking study of top biomedical research departments, and has developed action plans to reach his goals. These plans include building on the dynamic partnership with Wake Forest University, as well as other medical programs in the region.

He also hopes to expand recruiting efforts and augment mentoring programs to allow the school to become a leader in diversity efforts.

Among Duma’s honors are the Army Modeling and Simulation Award he received in 2008, numerous best paper awards, the 2005 Society of Automotive Engineers’ Ralph R. Teetor Award, and the 2006 Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine’s Outstanding Achiever Award for 2006. He has published over 70 refereed journal papers and an additional 80 refereed conference papers. In 2005, Technology Review presented Duma with one of its TR 35 Awards for Innovation, given to researchers under the age of 35.

Duma will assume the position from J. Wally Grant, professor of engineering science and mechanics, who has served as the head of the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences program for the past four years, and was one of the original founders.

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