Imoukhuede receives NSF CAREER Award


Rick Kubetz, College Communications

Assistant Professor Princess Imoukhuede
Assistant Professor Princess Imoukhuede

Princess U II Imoukhuede, an assistant professor of bioengineering, is the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER award for her proposal, “qBio+cBio=sBio; Identifying the role of cross-family signaling in angiogenesis.”

“A critical challenge in biomedical engineering is a need to control the process of blood vessel formation, also known as ‘angiogenesis’,” explained Imoukhuede in her proposal. “Directed control of angiogenesis remains a pressing need due to its involvement in the pathology of over 70 diseases.

“Controlling angiogenesis is important, because blood vessels supply the nutrients necessary for our organs and tissues to function properly. Efforts to control angiogenesis in cancer focus on starving and possibly killing the tumor by cutting off tumor blood supply, typically, looking at a single protein family.

According to Imoukhuede, this project proposes to overcome current limitations in this type of cancer therapy and meet the general challenge of controlling angiogenesis by tackling a more difficult, “big-data”-like problem: understanding how combinations of proteins control angiogenesis. The education and outreach portion of this project will introduce sophomores to research and computer modeling in an introductory-level course in order to excite them about STEM. The activities will include mentoring of underrepresented students to increase their interest and persistence within STEM majors.

“This will introduce systems biology to sophomore students who will develop computational models of ligand-receptor signaling in angiogenesis,” Imoukhuede added.  “Successful students will also be offered opportunities to continue their work in my research laboratory.”

Imoukhuede joined the Department of Bioengineering in 2012 following a postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Department of Biomedical Engineering. She earned an SB in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a PhD in bioengineering from the California Institute of Technology. She is also an affiliate of the Institute for Genomic Biology and the Beckman Institute at Illinois.

The National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program’s CAREER Awards are prestigious and competitive awards given to junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholar through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their respective organizations. The program will provide five years of support.