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Professor Kristi Anseth

103rd Distinguished Research Lecture 2011

Professor Kristi AnsethProfessor Kristi Anseth of the Colorado Initiative in Molecular & Biotechnology (CIMB) and the College of Engineering presented the 103rd Distinguished Research Lecture on August 24, 2011. Click here to view Dr. Anseth's lecture online.

Kristi Anseth's reaches out to high school students - With Anseth’s integral support, a partnership between CU Science Discovery and the Boulder Valley School District’s Science Research Seminar recruited around 50 high school students to tour the Anseth Research Group Lab and attend the Distinguished Research Lecture on Aug. 24. Read more here.

Kristi Anseth and family with her awardDr. Anseth, distinguished professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, presented “The Body Shop,” a lecture on her work in engineering tissues to improve medical treatments across a wide spectrum, from helping broken bones heal faster to replacing diseased heart valves. A lecturecast can be viewed online of the event.

The lecture was understandable and enjoyable to the general public including middle and high school students who are particularly interested in science. As Professor Thomas R. Cech has said, “Kristi always gives clear, compelling, and captivating lectures, and she is highly skilled at tailoring her talk to the level of the audience.”

The Distinguished Research Lectureship is the highest honor the faculty of CU-Boulder bestow upon a fellow faculty member. Not only is Dr. Anseth one of, if not the, youngest recipient of the award, but she is also an alum of CU-Boulder, receiving her PhD in Chemical Engineering in 1994. Anseth's research group has published over 190 publications in peer-reviewed journals and presented over 170 invited lectures in the fields of biomaterials and tissue engineering. Dr. Anseth has received numerous national awards for her research activities, and was the first engineer to be named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. She received the Alan T. Waterman Award, the highest award of the National Science Foundation for demonstrated exceptional individual achievement in scientific or engineering research. Most recently, she was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine.

Dr. Anseth also is a dedicated teacher, who has received four university awards related to her teaching, as well as the American Society for Engineering Education’s Curtis W. McGraw Award. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. She serves on the editorial boards or as associate editor of BiomacromoleculesJournal of Biomedical Materials Research — Part A, Acta Biomaterialia, and Biotechnology & Bioengineering.

Biomedical research such as Dr. Anseth conducts is already saving lives and improving human health. As Professor David A. Tirrell from the California Institute of Technology said, “I believe that it is fair to say that there is no one else working in polymeric biomaterials who is addressing such a broad range of issues so effectively.”

Dr. Kristi Anseth supervises PhD student Cole DeForest, the recent winner of the 2011 DSM Polymer Technology Award.

For more information on biotechnology and engineering at CU-Boulder:

Visit the Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory. Explore one of the most innovative learning environments in the world. Investigate our "living laboratory" and our many interactive exhibits and kinetic sculpture. Free and open to the public, Monday-Friday, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm.

Visit the Discovery Learning CenterExhibits in the lobby include a laser communications satellite and a turbojet engine. Free and open to the public, Monday-Friday, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm.

What others have said about Dr. Kristi Anseth:

Professor Thomas R. Cech, Nobel Prize, NAS
University of Colorado Boulder

"Kristi Anseth is a highly innovative researcher with a very special ability to excite a broad audience. Kristi's impressive accomplishments have been recognized by awards at the local, national, and international levels." 

"Kristi always gives clear, compelling, and captivating lectures, and she is highly skilled at tailoring her talk to the level of the audience."

Professor Leslie A. Leinwand
University of Colorado Boulder

"She (Kristi Anseth) became one of the youngest members elected to the National Academy of Engineering. One of the amazing things is that she is still in an exponential phase of her career." 

"Her research has been innovative in its development of materials for engineering tissues with important clinical applications. There is a real gap between the pure chemical approach to polymers and the biology of combining cells with these materials. Kristi is a rare individual who bridges the gap in all her work. She is an extremely well rounded individual who manages to balance excellence at all levels."

Professor Robert S. Langer, NAS
Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, MIT

"Her (Kristi's) research represents extremely important new directions in the area of biomedical materials. Kristi has a magnificent career and a wonderful future ahead of her."

Professor Nicholas A. Peppas, NAE
University of Texas, Austin

"At the age of just 40, Professor Kristi Anseth is the most innovative and most recognized bioengineer of her generation." 

"She was the first to synthesize new multifunctional macromolecular monomers to study and model properties of degradable biomaterials."

Professor David A. Tirrell, NAS
California Institute of Technology

"Kristi has been astonishingly successful in merging fundamental insight in cell and molecular biology with state-of-the-art advances in material science to create new matrices for drug delivery and tissue engineering."

"Kristi's approach proved to be remarkably successful, leading to nearly quantitative conversion of monomer to polymer in periods of seconds to minutes." 

"I believe that it is fair to say that there is no one else working in polymeric biomaterials who is addressing such a broad range of issues so effectively."

Kristi Anseth talking to lecture guests
Kristi Anseth talking to lecture guests


Kristi Anseth working in the lab
Kristi Anseth working in the lab

Kristi Anseth working with graduate students
Kristi Anseth working with graduate students

Miniature “wells” (red) in which small clusters of specific cell types (green) can be grown
Powerful new tools create these miniature “wells” (red) in which small clusters of specific cell types (green) can be grown, e.g., insulin-producing pancreatic cells or various types of stem cells, for potential medical treatments.

Living cells
Living cells rely on external molecular signals to grow appropriately in three dimensions. In this photo, the external signals (adhesion peptides, labeled green) help bone marrow-derived stem cells (labeled red) grow in a biologically accurate way within two small channels.

Stem cells
Stem cells derived from bone marrow have potential to become many different types of “mature” cells. In this example, these stem cells (green) are being grown in an artificial environment that pushes them toward becoming cartilage-producing cells, which could have many applications in treating cartilage-related diseases and even the effects of natural aging.

Valvular interstitial cells
Heart valves rely on the health of a particular cell type known as “valvular interstitial cells” to maintain their proper function. Here these unique cells (red with blue nuclei) are shown growing on an artificial scaffold, offering the possibility of a better alternative to mechanical or transplant-derived valve replacement.

Dr. Anseth's work in tissue engineering
Dr. Anseth's work in tissue engineering is bridging the "gap between the pure chemical approach to polymers and the biology of applying cells with these materials" (Professor Leslie A. Leinwand, University of Colorado Boulder).

Biomedical research such as Dr. Anseth conducts is already saving lives and improving human health.
Biomedical research such as Dr. Anseth conducts is already saving lives and improving human health.

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