Dr. Metin Akay, the founding chairman of the Biomedical Engineering Department and the John S. Dunn Endowed Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering, has been named the president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS).
“I am honored and humbled to be elected as the President of IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society,” Akay said. “IEEE EMBS is the largest international organization, with more than 12,000 members, that brings together engineers, physicians, and scientists to tackle global challenges through healthcare innovations. The parent society, IEEE, is the largest international organization, with more than 420,000 members. I am highly dedicated to increasing the global public awareness on the impact of biomedical engineering innovations in healthcare with the participation and collaboration of engineers, scientists, physicians, healthcare professionals, and industry leaders.”
Akay's term runs through December 31, 2022. Akay has already begun working on initiatives to fight the current pandemic that he will be continuing with other researchers and professionals in 2021 and beyond.
“I have already envisioned and implemented the most comprehensive and public Grand Challenge Forum in COVID-19 with Drs. Shankar Subraminam (UCSD), Paolo Bonato (MIT/Harvard), Colin Brenan (1CellBio Inc.) and with the participation of 27 exceptional plenary speakers,” he said. “The very successful COVID-19 forum was held in November, and highlighted and discussed the challenges and opportunities in COVID-19 screening, tracing, and treatment. We strongly believe that this forum has helped us to build a platform that strengthens our collective capability to exchange ideas as well as share, access, and manage data, models and latest reports regarding COVID-19 research. I am confident that it will also accelerate the rapid scientific innovation and reproducible research needed to find solutions in the global battle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Akay identified three more topics that would warrant a public Grand Challenge Forum in the coming years.
“I will continue working with my colleagues to organize and lead three additional paradigm-shifting public Grand Challenges Forums on (1) Data Science and Engineering in Healthcare, (2) Technologies for Mental Health Initiatives, and (3) Healthcare Innovations and Entrepreneurship in 2021, with the participations of global scholars, leaders from the healthcare industry, research institutions and Academia,” he said.
Akay joined the faculty at the University of Houston in 2010, as the founding chairman of the Biomedical Engineering Department and a John S. Dunn Endowed Professor. He previously served as a professor and interim chairman of the Harrington Department of Bioengineering at Arizona State. He is a native of Turkey, earning his B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Bogaziçi University in Istanbul in 1981 and 1984, respectively. He received his doctorate in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University in 1990.
As part of his agenda as IEEE EMBS president, Akay also said that he would push for greater diversity in the field.
“We acknowledge women play a large part in our scientific success and look forward to helping them obtain the rightful recognition and opportunities they deserve,” he said. “It is imperative for our society to promote female healthcare researchers, physicians and industry professionals. I pledge to continue to promote female scientists and engineers by encouraging active involvement in our conferences, publications, technical committees, and membership activities. I will continue working with my colleagues toward maintaining the highest quality of innovations that will propel our society to greater heights.”
Akay is looking forward to the challenges he will tackle during his presidency of the society.
“I am confident that during my tenure, our society will play a role in advancing engineering innovations into healthcare,” he said. “Our society will continue to make meaningful differences in the lives of others and impact the careers of our students and members. Ultimately, we will increase the public awareness of the role of biomedical engineers and healthcare innovations in our global community. I have the energy, vision, and network to achieve these goals.”