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Cancer Agency Helps Bring Top Researcher to Dell Med, Cockrell School

Nov. 12, 2015

Made possible by a $6 million recruitment grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), The University of Texas at Austin has hired Thomas Yankeelov, a distinguished cancer researcher who will assume a dual appointment in the Cockrell School of Engineering and the Dell Medical School.

The grant comes through CPRIT’s Established Investigator program, which aims to recruit top cancer researchers to Texas institutions. This marks the first time UT Austin has received a grant through the program.

Yankeelov comes to UT Austin from Vanderbilt University. He will be the university’s first faculty member to hold positions in both the engineering and medical schools. His appointment begins Jan. 1, 2016.

“There are tremendous opportunities at the intersection of medicine and engineering to develop new tools that will help save lives. Dr. Yankeelov will help UT Austin lead those efforts,” said President Gregory L. Fenves. “We continually strive to bring the best minds to Texas to collaborate on world changing research. This grant from CPRIT allows us to do just that.”

At Vanderbilt, Yankeelov served as the Ingram Professor of Cancer Research; professor of radiology and radiological sciences, physics, biomedical engineering and cancer biology; and director of cancer imaging research and co-leader of the Host-Tumor Interactions Research Program for the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

At UT Austin, he will hold the W.A. “Tex” Moncrief Jr., Simulation-Based Engineering and Sciences Professorship II – Computational Oncology. He will also lead the Tumor Modeling Group in the university’s Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences and serve as director of cancer imaging research within the Livestrong Cancer Institutes of the Dell Medical School.

“We are thrilled to welcome Tom to UT Austin,” said Sharon L. Wood, dean of the Cockrell School. “His hiring not only brings another world-class cancer researcher to our Department of Biomedical Engineering, but it advances our partnership with the Dell Medical School and creates exciting opportunities for future collaboration.”

Yankeelov’s clinical research is aimed at improving patient care by employing advanced imaging methods for the early identification, assessment and prediction of tumors and their response to therapy. He has developed successful tumor-forecasting methods by combining imaging technologies with patient-specific data to build predictive, multiscale biophysical models of tumor growth — all with the purpose of offering personalized therapies for individual cancer patients.

“A big reason the Dell Medical School exists is that Travis County voters wanted better cancer care closer to home. Tom is just the kind of leader who can help redefine what better cancer care means,” said Clay Johnston, inaugural dean of the Dell Medical School, which will enroll its first class of students next summer. “This collaboration represents a fantastic opportunity for our campus and our community to open a new front in the fight against cancer.”

Yankeelov is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers and has served on the editorial boards of scientific publications such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Medical Physics and Breast Cancer Research. He received his B.A. in mathematics from the University of Louisville, his M.A. in applied mathematics and M.S. in physics from Indiana University and his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Stony Brook University.