Three BME Faculty Promoted to Full Professor

Mar 04 2014

Christopher Jacobs

Dr. Christopher Jacobs joined the SEAS faculty on July 1, 2008 as an Associate Professor in BME. He previously held positions as an Assistant Professor with the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Pennsylvania State University, and as an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. Professor Jacobs earned his B.S. in Systems Science and Mathematics from Washington University, and both his MS and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 1989 and 1994, respectively.

Dr. Jacobs’s research is focused on determining the mechanism that allows cells to sense and respond to mechanical stimulation. Specifically, he is investigating how the biology of bone tissue is regulated by physical loading at the cell and molecular levels. His research approaches include creating validated mathematical models of cell mechanical behavior, cell culture experiments to identify novel molecular targets involved in cellular mechanosensing, and in-vivo mouse models to confirm that these targets play a role in skeletal mechanobiology.

Recently his lab has characterized the biomechanical behavior of primary cilia, newly described cellular mechanosensors, and developed unique tools to examine the molecular signaling systems within these unique microdomains. His work has significant applications in developing new therapies to age-related bone loss and osteoporosis. His course offerings have included Orthopaedic Bioengineering, Molecular Tissue Engineering, Cell Mechanics, and Finite Element Modeling of Biologic Tissue. He has advised over 10 post-doctoral fellows and 15 Ph.D. students and has over 100 journal papers.

Dr. Jacobs serves as the U.S. Editor for Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Bioengineering. His recently published textbook on introductory cell mechanics has been adopted in 33 courses with a combined enrollment of over 650 students in the first six months. Honors for Dr. Jacobs’s work include his recognition as the 2014 recipient of the Van C. Mow Medal (ASME), Fellow for the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (Class of 2013), the 2005 Iwao Yasuda Award from the Society for Physical Regulation in Biology and Medicine, the 2004 Department of Veterans Affairs Research Career Scientist Award, and Young Investigators Awards (1998) from both the American Society of Biomechanics and European Society of Biomechanics.


Elisa Konofagou

Dr. Elisa Konofagou joined the SEAS faculty as an Assistant Professor on October 1, 2003. She is also a Professor of Radiology at Columbia, and serves as Director of the Ultrasound and Elasticity Imaging Laboratory. Dr. Konofagou earned her B.S. in Chemical Physics at Université de Paris 6, and her M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Imperial College at the University of London. In 1999, she earned her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Houston and University of Texas Medical School.

Dr. Konofagou served as a postdoctoral fellow in the radiology department at the University of Texas Medical School, and as a research fellow, instructor, and visiting scientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School. Her research includes contributions in the areas of ultrasound imaging, therapeutic ultrasound, elasticity imaging, signal and image processing, and soft tissue mechanics.

Dr. Konofagou’s focus is on the development of novel elasticity imaging techniques for noninvasive early detection and screening of early onset of cardiovascular disease and myocardial infarction; unveiling the mechanism of ultrasound- induced opening of the blood-brain barrier for facilitation of non-invasive and localized brain drug delivery; the design and implementation of an all ultrasound system for the detection, monitoring and generation of ablative therapy for noninvasive, extracorporeal tumor treatment; and pioneering electromechanical wave imaging and pulse wave imaging for mapping spontaneously generated waves in the heart and vessels of humans for assessment of mechanical and electrical properties of tissues. 

Dr. Konofagou has taught courses in Diagnostic Ultrasound Imaging, BME Laboratory, BME Capstone Design, Computational Modeling of Physiologic Systems, BME Computational Modeling of Physiologic Systems, and has advised 16 doctoral candidates at Columbia and provided supervision for numerous high school, B.S., and M.S. students and researchers. She has been awarded the NSF Career award (2007), Nagy Award by NIBIB (NIH) (2007), the AIUM New Investigator Award (2006), a Diversity Research Fellowship Award from Columbia University (2008), the Coulter Fellow Award (2009), the ISTU Fred Lizzi Early Career Award (2009), SPIE Biomedical Wellness Pioneer Award (2014) and was elected to the Board of Governors of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine in 2012, and to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) in 2014.


Helen Lu

Dr. Helen Lu joined the SEAS faculty as an Assistant Professor on July 1, 2001. Dr. Lu received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Bioengineering (B.S.E., M.S.E and Ph.D.) from the University of Pennsylvania, and later trained as a postdoctoral fellow in Chemical Engineering at both Drexel and Tufts University. Dr. Lu’s research focuses on Orthopaedic Interface Tissue Engineering and the formation of complex tissue/organ systems, with the goal of achieving integrative and functional repair of sports-related and degenerative soft tissue injuries.  Additionally, her research group is active in the design of composite biomaterials for orthopedic and dental applications.

While at Columbia, Dr. Lu has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in Tissue Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Biomaterials and Scaffold Design, as well as the Egleston Scholar Research Seminar (SEAS). As the chair of the Graduate Studies Committee, she has advanced the Graduate Program in the BME Department to new levels of excellence and organization. Her pioneering research has been recognized with Early Faculty Career Awards in Translational Research (Phase I and Phase II) from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, the International Y’ROBOTS award for Research in Orthopedic Biomechanics and Sports Medicine, the Faculty Diversity Research Fellowship from Columbia and the Young Investigator Award from the Society for Biomaterials.

Dr. Lu was honored with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) at the White House in 2010, and was elected as a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) in 2011. Dr. Lu has trained both postdoctoral and doctoral fellows, and she has been a dedicated mentor of high school, undergraduate and master students at SEAS and Columbia College, as well as dental and medical students at Columbia. Her group has published over seventy original research articles, invited reviews and book chapters in biomaterials and tissue engineering, and Dr. Lu’s research is supported by the Whitaker Foundation, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation, the New York State Stem Cell Initiative, the National Football League (NFL) Charities and the National Institutes of Health.


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