Sheldon Weinbaum Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

CCNY biomedical engineer becomes one of only five living persons also holding membership in all

Professor Sheldon Weinbaum enters the 2013 Academy class alongside Robert De Niro and John Glenn.

three U.S. National Academies

Dr. Sheldon Weinbaum, Distinguished Professor of Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering Emeritus in The City College of New York’s Grove School of Engineering, has just joined a very exclusive club. With his election in April as a 2013 Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (the Academy), he becomes one of just five living persons with membership in the Academy- and the three U.S. National Academies: Academy of Sciences, Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine.

The other four members of this elite group are:
•  Dr. Frances Arnold, professor of chemical engineering, bioengineering and biochemistry, California Institute of Technology
•  Dr. Robert Langer, professor of chemical and biomedical engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
•  Dr. Rakesh Jain, professor of tumor biology, Harvard Medical School
•  Dr. Shu Chien, professor of biomedical engineering, University of California San Diego.

Coincidentally, for more than 30 years Professor Chien has been Professor Weinbaum’s closest collaborator. “He is certainly richly deserving of this honor,” Professor Chien said about Professor Weinbaum’s election. “He is extremely creative and innovative. To work with him is such a pleasure because he always comes up with new ideas that are aiming at very important discoveries at the interface of engineering and biomedical science.”

Over their long scientific partnership, Professor Weinbaum and Professor Chien have looked at questions of how endothelial cells that line blood vessels respond to various mechanical forces, such as pressure and flow. They examined how these responses regulate both the normal blood vessel function and the disease state of atherosclerosis – or hardening of the arteries.

The two also shared a National Science Foundation NSF “Special Creativity” award for the discovery of the function of the endothelial pore at the cellular level. This pore serves as a gatekeeper for LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol.)

Earlier in his career, Professor Weinbaum made his name outside the biomedical realm, and was widely recognized as an expert in reentry aerodynamics and basic studies in fluid mechanics. He shifted his interests to biomechanical phenomena in the human body in the early 1970s.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was established in 1780 “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honour, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.” It is organized in five classes with multiple sections: mathematical and physical sciences; biological sciences; social sciences; humanities and arts, and public affairs, business and administration. The 2013 classes comprise 186 fellows and 12 foreign honorary members.

Professor Weinbaum was one of seven persons elected this year in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Class, Engineering Sciences and Technologies Section. They and the other honorees, who include actors Robert De Niro and Sally Field, musicians Herbie Hancock and Bruce Springsteen and U.S. Senators John Glenn and Richard Lugar, will be inducted October 11 at a ceremony in Cambridge, Mass.

Other Fellows of the Academy who are CCNY faculty members are Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Ruth Stark, elected in 2011, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering Charles Watkins, elected in 2005.

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