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Founding chair of UC San Diego Department of Bioengineering receives Franklin Award

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Philadelphia, Nov. 12, 2015 – Shu Chien, founding chair of the Department of Bioengineering at the University of California, where is he currently a professor and director of the Institute of Engineering in Medicine, has received the prestigious Franklin Institute Award.

The award is conferred by the Philadelphia-based Franklin Institute. It has gone in previous years to an extraordinary list of great men and women who have significantly improved our world with their pioneering innovations, including Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, Stephen Hawking, Jacques Cousteau, and more recently Jane Goodall, Dean Kamen and Bill Gates.

"I am extremely honored and humbled by being chosen as a recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Medal, to be in company with all the superb medalists," Chien told the San Diego Union-Tribune Thursday. "I appreciate particularly that the award is in mechanical engineering, which I learned in my faculty years from my wonderful colleagues and apply to the study of cardiovascular system in health and disease."

Chien is a world leader in the study of how blood flow and pressure affect blood vessels. His research has led to the development of better diagnostic tests and treatments for atherosclerosis as well as other diseases. He received the Franklin award "for contributions to the understanding of the physics of blood flow, and for applying this knowledge to better diagnose cardiovascular disease."

When Chien joined the bioengineering program at UC San Diego in 1988, it had just six faculty members. Chien saw what he could help build here and the potential was too alluring to pass up. He led the effort to form the Department of Bioengineering in 1994.

The Franklin award joins a long list of accolades that Chien has received over the years, including the National Medal of Science in 2011. He also is one of only a few scholars who are members of all three U.S. national institutes–the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine, as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has served in leadership positions in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and other professional societies.

The Franklin award recognizes global breakthroughs in science and technology, and outstanding business leadership that are vital to improving our world. The award program was founded in 1824. In all, 116 distinguished fellow Franklin Institute laureates have also won the Nobel Prize.

Chien will receive the award on Thursday, April 21, 2016, during the Franklin Institute Awards Ceremony in Philadelphia. The ceremony is the culmination of a weeklong series of events and programs designed to shine an important spotlight on advancements in science and technology, as well as extraordinary business leadership. In addition to an array of lectures and symposia throughout the week, educational programs for area high school students and public demonstrations are designed to provide direct and unprecedented access to the laureates.

"The Franklin Institute Awards is one of the most important ways we continue the strong legacy set forth by Benjamin Franklin," explains Larry Dubinski, President and CEO of The Franklin Institute. "These are some of the greatest minds and most influential pioneers of our time who are recognized here in Philadelphia for their accomplishments that will no doubt impact each and every one of us in some way, at some time. They are the Franklins of today, who will certainly help inspire the Franklins of tomorrow."

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