Princess I. Imoukhuede, PhD
SB, Chemical Engineering, MIT
Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Professor Imoukhuede studies the vascular microenvironment to identify molecular and cellular signaling networks that modulate, inhibit, and promote blood vessel formation. She combines this with systems biology approaches to identify promising therapeutic targets. Her goal is to unravel the molecular complexities governing blood-vessel formation, which has the potential for treatment of more than 70 diseases, including breast cancer and some cardiovascular diseases.
Professor Imoukhuede is a native of Illinois, having attended Rich South High School and the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA). Professor Imoukhuede earned her SB in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where her research earned her the coveted Class of 1972 award, presented annually to the project that most improves the quality of life through its impact on people and/or the environment. Professor Imoukhuede’s research was funded by the National Science Foundation’s Biotechnology Process Engineering Center at MIT and through a Bioengineering Undergraduate Research Award by the MIT Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Health. Professor Imoukhuede was also an NCAA All-American athlete, garnering these honors three times for placing at the NCAA Track and Field Championships. Professor Imoukhuede was honored with the 2002 Betsy Schumaker Award (also known as the MIT female athlete of the year), was selected to a COSIDA/VERIZON Academic All-America team, and was awarded an NCAA postgraduate scholarship. Professor Imoukhuede championed the importance of social responsibility in the midst of academic excellence by serving as the President of the MIT Committee on Multiculturalism, President of the MIT chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and held both chapter and zone offices in the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).
After earning her undergraduate degree, Professor Imoukhuede pursued graduate study in Bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, CA. Here, she combined sensitive techniques in biomedical optics with nanoparticle imaging towards understanding the structure, function, and trafficking of a key protein in epilepsy, the GABA transporter, GAT1. She also performed research in nicotine addiction through molecular imaging of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Professor Imoukhuede’s research in nanotechnology earned her the Kavli Nanoscience Institute Award and her graduate research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIDA). Professor Imoukhuede was the first African-American woman to be awarded a Bioengineering PhD by Caltech and was only the second African-American woman to earn a PhD from Caltech’s Division of Engineering and Applied Science.
Professor Imoukhuede completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Biomedical Engineering Department at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. During her fellowship at Johns Hopkins, she was 1 of 10 postdoctoral fellows nationwide to earn the prestigious United Negro College Fund/Merck Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, 1 of 6 young investigators to earn the FASEB Postdoctoral Professional Development Award, and her work was awarded a Poster Award at the biennial Gordon Conference in Angiogenesis. Her postdoctoral work was also supported by the National Institutes of Health (NHLBI).
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
Professor Imoukhuede’s current work aims to shift the current convention on growth factor-receptor signaling towards a cross-family paradigm through a quantitative and computational systems biology research program. She and her research team have made considerable strides in their research presenting 108 conference abstracts and 50 invited lectures. Her innovative work has earned her a “Young Innovator in Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering” award, presented at the 2015 Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Annual Meeting; an American Heart Association Scientific Development Award; and a 2017 National Science Foundation CAREER Award.
Teaching and mentoring are important elements of Professor Imoukhuede’s academic mission. She applies the same forward-looking lens to teaching as she does to her engineering research. She has developed innovative pedagogies grounded in the current research and contributed novel scholarship in Bioengineering education. With regards to research mentoring, she has assembled a talented research team, which has included: 10 doctoral students, 2 visiting research scientists, 1 postdoctoral fellow, and over 60 undergraduate students of which over 70% of these students have been women or underrepresented in STEM. Her trainees have obtained several distinctions, including fellowships, scholarships, and awards from the American Heart Association, AMGEN, Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), and the North American Vascular Biology Organization. In addition to training researchers in her laboratory, she actively participates in teaching and learning initiatives across the University of Illinois College of Engineering. She serves as the Computational Modeling Theme Chair for the recently funded $2 million NIH Tissue Microenvironment Training Grant. Additionally, she serves as Senior Personnel on the newly funded $2 million NSF Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) grant. Her commitment to teaching and mentoring recently earned her the Rose Award for Teaching Excellence, presented by the University of Illinois College of Engineering.
Professor Imoukhuede’s biography is featured in the book, A Hand Up: Women Mentoring Women in Science. You can also listen to her story, which was featured in the August 2017 Podcast: People Behind the Science.