Two UI professors, engineering dean to be nominated by American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers

The American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers is inducting University of Iowa professors, Don Anderson, Gary Christensen, and Harriet Nembhard on March 25. The professors do work in lung cancer treatment, invasive surgery, and orthopedics.


Larry Phan

Gary Christensen stands in the Seamen’s Center for a portrait on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.

Madeleine Willis, News Reporter

The American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering will induct two University of Iowa professors and the dean of the College of Engineering as members.

The inductees represent the top 2 percent of medical and biological engineers across the country.

Harriet Nembhard, College of Engineering dean and professor of industrial engineering.

Before Nembhard’s time at Iowa, she worked for Oregon State University for four years. For the past 15 years, her work has been in health care systems engineering.

Nembhard has been with the UI’s College of Engineering for the past 20 months, and said she came to the UI to provide leadership for the college of engineering.

Industrial engineering is all about systems, Nembhard said, and her work is very interdisciplinary.

“The work that I am known for, that was recognized in the AIMBE fellowship, includes developing a patent for minimally invasive surgical tools and small tools, for medical surgery,” she said.

Don Anderson, UI chair in orthopedic biomechanics and professor and vice-chair of research, orthopedics, and rehabilitation. 

Don Anderson primarily works for the UI Carver College of Medicine, but he has appointments in both engineering and orthopedics. Currently, he is on a six-month sabbatical in Calgary.

Anderson works on computational modeling research, studying mechanical programs in the skeletal system, and teaching surgical skills outside of the surgery room.

“It is important to receive this recognition because it shows prolonged consistent success over the years and reflects well on the institution,” he said.

In the future, Anderson said he hopes to turn attention to helping junior faculty in the department succeed and embark on research.

Gary Christensen, UI department of electrical and computer engineering and department of radiation oncology professor.

Gary Christensen has been doing his work at the UI for over 25 years.

Christensen said he is really excited about the lung cancer research he is working on. He uses computers and mathematics to improve lung treatment and medical imaging.

“It is a joint project I have been working on for over 10 years, and a lot of good Ph.D. students have come out of the group,” he said.

Christensen said so far, the new method has been very successful to treat tumors and avoid healthy parts of the body. Currently his research team is treating people in Wisconsin and plans to expand to multiple institutions across the nation.

“We are setting up a meeting hopefully in late May-early June in D.C. We are trying to bring experts from across the country and the world,” he said. “Very few people have actually done this, and we are going to be the first to actually test treating patients this way.”

Both Anderson and Christensen serve on other professional society boards, and said they feel honored to be inducted into the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers.

“The institution looks at the contributions of colleagues around the country and the nomination process is very rigorous,” Nembhard said.