Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic


351 Engineering Terrace
Mail Code 8904

Tel(212) 305-2304
Fax(212) 305-4692

Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic's diverse team of engineers, clinicians, and scientists are developing innovative tissue engineering technologies for improving human health. Our Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering is interested in whole organ engineering for regenerative medicine, tissue models for biological research, and “organs-on-a-chip” platforms for disease modeling and drug development.

Research Interests

Regenerative engineering of the human lung, heart and bone Organs-on-a-chip platforms, (heart, liver, vasculature, skin, bone, tumors) Tissue models of disease Tissue platforms for drug screening Precision medicine

To this end, her team directs the human cell differentiation and assembly into functional tissues using a “cell-instructive” approach based on tissue-specific scaffolds (providing templates for tissue formation) and advanced bioreactors (providing environmental control, molecular and physical signaling). Her work has been published in Nature, Cell, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Medicine, Nature Biomedical Engineering, Nature Communications, Nature Protocols, PNAS, Cell Stem Cell, Science Advances, and Science Translational Medicine, and is highly cited (h=126).

Vunjak-Novakovic’s laboratory is a home to the national Tissue Engineering Resource Center funded by NIH to foster tissue engineering for medical impact, and are actively collaborating with colleagues at both campuses of Columbia University, nationwide, and around the world. Dr Vunjak-Novakovic is also part of CELL-MET, a multi-institutional National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center in Cellular Metamaterials (EEC-1647837). CELL-MET aims to grow functional and clinically significant heart tissue while simultaneously developing a talented and diverse workforce to tackle future challenges in synthetic tissues engineering. To translate their science into new therapeutic modalities, their lab has launched four biotech companies: epiBone (epibone.com), Tara(tarabiosystems.com), Xylyx Biosolutions (xylyxbio.com) and Immplacate (immplacatehealth.com) that are all based in New York City. Over the last 30 years, Vunjak-Novakovic has mentored over 150 trainees (postdocs, clinical fellows, MD/PhD and PhD students, junior faculty).

She has a BS, MS, and PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Belgrade and specialized in biomedical engineering as a Fulbright Fellow at MIT. She is a member of the Academia Europaea, Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Inventors, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


  • 1986-1987 Fulbright Fellow, Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT


  • 2019 Director, Center for Dental and Craniofacial Research, Columbia University
  • 2019 Professor of Dental Medicine, Columbia University
  • 2018 Affiliate member, Mortimer B Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, Columbia University
  • 2017 University Professor, Columbia University
  • 2011 The Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University
  • 2011 Professor of Medical Sciences, Columbia University
  • 2014 Faculty, Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbia University
  • 2015 Faculty, Center for Human Development, Columbia University
  • 2011 Biomedical Engineering track of Mayo Graduate Faculty, Mayo Clinic
  • 2005 Professor, Columbia University, Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • 2005 Director, Stem Cell and Tissue Engineering Laboratory, Columbia University
  • 2005 Visiting Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard-MIT Division for Health Sciences and Technology, Cambridge MA
  • 2009 Honorary Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Belgrade
  • 2009 Co-director, Craniofacial Regeneration Center, Columbia University
  • 2002 Adjunct Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering. Tufts University, Medford MA
  • 1994 Adjunct Professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Tufts University
  • 1993–99 Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Belgrade University, Yugoslavia
  • 1993 Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Belgrade University, Yugoslavia
  • 1993 Visiting Scientist, Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT, Cambridge MA
  • 1992 Visiting Scientist, Harvard – MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology
  • 1989 Visiting professor, University of Wageningen, Wageningen, Netherlands


  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), Fellow
  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)
  • Biomaterials Research Society
  • Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), Fellow
  • International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering (IAMBE), Fellow
  • International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR)
  • Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS)
  • Society For Biomaterials (SFB)
  • Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Society (TERMIS), officer


  • 2021 Fellow, International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering (IAMBE)
  • 2021 Pierre Galletti Award, AIMBE's highest honor
  • 2020 Order of Karadjordje Star, Serbia’s highest honor
  • 2020 Edison Lecture, University of Notre Dame
  • 2020 Petit Distinguished Lecture, Georgia Institute if Technology and Emory, Atlanta
  • 2019 Person of the year in Serbia
  • 2019 Award of the NCATS-ASPIRE Design Challenge for Biological Assays for Translational Innovation in Pain, Opioid Use Disorder and Overdose (with Kacey Ronaldson-Bouchard, Joriene de Nooij and Naveed Tavakol)
  • 2019 Election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 2019 HHMI Scientific Review Board
  • 2019 Innovation and Commercialization Award, Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Society of the Americas (TERMIS)
  • 2019 AIChE Rock Stars of Regenerative Engineering
  • 2019 Shu Chien Achievement Award, Biomedical Engineering Society
  • 2019 Birnberg Medal, College of Dental Medicine, Columbia University
  • 2019 Advisory Council of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
  • 2017 Robert A. Pritzker Award for 2017, Biomedical Engineering Society
  • 2017 NIBIB National Advisory Council speaker, NIH, January 24, 2017.
  • 2017 Doctorate Honoris Causa, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
  • 2016-2017 Chair, College of Fellows, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIBME)
  • 2016 Board of Directors, AIBME
  • 2016 Award of the Materials Research Society of Serbia for Lasting and Outstanding Contribution to Material Science and Engineering
  • 2015 Bioengineering Peer Committee, National Academy of Engineering
  • 2014 Election to the National Academy of Inventors    
  • 2014 Election to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • 2014 Election to the National Academy of Medicine
  • 2014 Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2014          
  • 2013 National Academy of Engineering, Executive Committee, Section for Bioengineering; Fritz J and Dolores H Russ Prize Committee
  • 2013 Founding Class of the International Fellows of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
  • 2012 Election to the National Academy of Engineering
  • 2012 Election to the Academia Europea
  • 2012 Election to the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts
  • 2012 Election to the Serbian National Academy of Engineering
  • 2012 Fellow, Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)
  • 2010 Clemson award of the Society of Biomaterials “for significant contributions to the literature on the science or technology of biomaterials”
  • 2009 Election to the New York Academy of Sciences
  • 2008 Hall of Fame, Women in Technology International (one of 5 leaders in science and technology in 2008)
  • 2008 US Section Head, Musculoskeletal Repair & Regeneration Section, Faculty 1000 of Medicine
  • 2007 NIH Director’s lecture, the first woman engineer to receive this distinction
  • 2004 Outstanding Performance Medal, World Congress of in vitro Biology
  • 2004-2006 Three Space Act Awards, NASA, for patents
  • 2000 American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), Fellow
  • 1997 Medal of recognition, Centennial of the Serbian Chemical Society, Belgrade YU
  • 1996 – 97 Space study of cartilage tissue engineering aboard “Mir”, in collaboration with NASA Johnson Space Center (co-lead of the 13-member team, with LE Freed); the longest cell experiment ever conducted in space; study reported in PNAS)


  • Godier-Furnemont A, Martens T, Koeckert M, Wan LQ, Parks J, Zhang G, Hudson J, and Vunjak-Novakovic G. Composite scaffold provides a cell delivery platform for cardiovascular repair PNAS 108(19): 7974-7979, 2011 Commentaries: Nature 472: 393, 2011; Circ Res 109 (5): 480-481, 2011.
  • Wan LQ, Ronaldson K, Park M, Taylor G, Zhang Y, Gimble JM and Vunjak-Novakovic G. Micropatterned Mammalian Cells Exhibit Chiral Morphogenesis PNAS, vol. 108 (30): 12295–12300, 2011; cover article; commentary, PNAS, vol. 108 (30): 12191–12192, 2011.
  • Bhumiratana S, Bernhard JC, Alfi DM, Yeager K, Eton RE, Bova J, Shah F, Gimble JM, Lopez MJ, Eisig SB, and Vunjak-Novakovic G. Tissue engineered autologous grafts for facial bone reconstruction. Science Translational Medicine 8 (343) 343ra83, 2016.
  • Villasante A, Sakaguchi K, Kim J, Cheung NK, Nakayama M, Parsa H, Okano T, Shimizu T and Vunjak-Novakovic G. Vascularized tissue-engineered model of neuroblastoma for studying drug resistance. Theranostics 7(17):4099-4117, 2017 (cover article)
  • Dorrello NV, Guenthart BA, O’Neill JD, Kim J, Biscotti M, Cunningham K, Swayne T, Wobma HM, Huang SXL, Snoeck H-W, Bacchetta M, Vunjak-Novakovic G. Functional vascularized grafts for lung bioengineering. Science Advances 3(8):e1700521, 2017. Commentary in Science.
  • Bhumiratana S, Eton R, Oungoulian S, Wan LQ, Ateshian GA and Vunjak-Novakovic G. Large, stratified and mechanically functional human cartilage grown in vitro by mesenchymal condensation. PNAS 111(19): 6940-6945, 2014. Highlighted in Nature Reviews Rheumatology Sarah Onoura: Dishing up functional human cartilage. 10: 321, 2014.
  • Ronaldson-Bouchard K. and Vunjak-Novakovic G. Organs on a Chip: a fast-track for engineered tissues in drug development. Cell Stem ell 22(3): 310-324, 2018.
  • Ronaldson-Bouchard K, Ma S, Chen T, Yeager K, Sirabella D, Song LJ, Yazawa M and Vunjak-Novakovic G. Advanced maturation of human cardiac tissue grown from pluripotent stem cells. Nature 556(7700):239-243, 2018. Commentaries in Nature Biomedical Engineering, Circulation and Cell Stem Cell.
  • Marturano-Kruik, Nava MM, Yaeger K, Ambati SR, Chramiec A, Hao L, Robinson S, Guo E, Raimondi MT and Vunjak-Novakovic G. Human bone perivascular niche-on-a-chip for studying metastatic homing PNAS 115(6):1256-1261, 2018.
  • Liu B, Lee BW, Nakanishi K, Villasante A, Williamson R, Metz J, Kim J, Kanai M, Bi L, Brown K, Di Paolo G, Homma S, Sims PA, Topkara VK, Vunjak-Novakovic G. Cardiac recovery via extended cell-free delivery of extracellular vesicles secreted by cardiomyocytes derived from iPS cells. Nature Biomedical Engineering 2:293-303, 2018; Commentaries in Nature Biomedical Engineering, Science Translational Medicine and Nature Reviews in Cardiology. Cover article
  • Ronaldson-Bouchard K, Teles D, Yeager K, Ma SP, Chen T, Song LJ, Morikawa K, Wobma HM, Vasciaveo A, Ruiz EC, Yazawa M and Vunjak-Novakovic G. Engineering of human cardiac muscle electromechanically matured to an adult-like phenotype. Nature Protocols 14: 2781–2817, 2019.
  • Guenthart BA, O’Neill JD, Kim J, Queen D, Chocotka S, Fung K, Simpson M, Donocoff R, Salna, Cunningham K, Halligan SP, Chen Y-W, Wobma HM, Hozain AE, Romanov A, Snoeck HW, Vunjak-Novakovic G, Bacchetta M. Recovery of severely damaged lungs using an interventional cross-circulation platform. Nature Communications 10(1):1985, 2019. News and Views in Nature Communications, Editor’s choice in Science Translational Medicine: A breath of fresh air for donor lungs. Jessica D Weaver 11(494) eaax95578, 2019.
  • Hozain AE, O'Neill JD, Pinezich MR, Tipograf Y,Donocoff R, Cunningham KM, Tumen A, Fung K, Ukita R, Simpson M, Reimer JA, Ruiz EC, Queen D, Stokes JW, Cardwell NL, Talackine J, Snoeck H-W, Chen Y-W, Romanov A, Marboe CC, Griesmer AD, Guenthart BA, Bacchetta M and Vunjak-Novakovic G. Xenogeneic cross-circulation for extracorporeal recovery of injured human lungs. Nature Medicine 26(7):1102-1113, 2020 (cover article) News & Views in the same issue: AJ Fisher and JH Dark Ex vivo repair of human lungs for transplantation. 26(7):1015-1016, 2020. Nature July 13, 2020. How to use a live pig to revitalize a human lung. Science Translational Medicine 12(554):eabd3628, 2020. and Lancet Respiratory Medicine Published online August 7, 2020 https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30358-1.