Robert Gourdie, a cardiovascular scientist, biomedical engineer and professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, has been appointed to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).
Gourdie will be inducted along with 152 colleagues who make up the AIMBE Fellow Class of 2022 during a virtual induction ceremony on Friday.
The AIMBE College of Fellows consists of the top 2% of medical and biological engineers in the United States. Gourdie was nominated and voted for by peers for pioneering new treatments that use short chains of amino acids called peptides to promote wound healing or fight cardiovascular disease and cancer.
The nomination recognized his contributions to translating fundamental scientific discoveries into therapeutic approaches to help patients.
“It is an honor to be among the leaders in biomedical engineering,” said Gourdie, Eminent Scholar of the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund in research in reparative heart medicine and director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute Center for Vascular and Heart Research. “My goal has always been to create treatments and create biomedical companies to bring therapeutics to people who are struggling with disease. This is further confirmation that we are on the right track.”
More than a decade ago, Gourdie and his then postdoctoral fellow Gautam Ghatnekar at the Medical University of South Carolina developed a novel peptide called alphaCT1 as a topical treatment to speed up wound healing — a health concern for people with diabetes, whose wounds tend to heal more slowly.
Gourdie and Ghatnekar formed a biopharmaceutical company, FirstString Research, to advance the drug into clinical trials and to the market.
At Virginia Tech, Gourdie co-founded Acomhal Research Inc., a cancer research company in Roanoke, Virginia, with Samy Lamouille, an assistant professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. The biotech startup is conducting preclinical development of a novel drug, JM2, that targets cancer stem cells to prevent the cancer from spreading.
Additionally, Gourdie has found a new way to extract and purify nanocontainers found naturally in milk to transport fragile drugs throughout the body – a technology he is developing through a Roanoke-based spin-off called Tiny Cargo Co .
“DR. Gourdie’s election as a Fellow of AIMBE recognizes his tremendous work in creating biomedical solutions to healthcare challenges, not only through scientific discovery but also through exceptional entrepreneurial ability,” said Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and Virginia Tech Vice President of Health Sciences and Technology “In addition to his scientific and business skills, the Virginia Tech community can be proud of Dr. Gourdie’s dedication to graduate education and his ability to provide experiential learning opportunities for students from a range of academic disciplines.”
Gourdie recently became Virginia Tech’s first-ever recipient of an Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. The seven-year, $6.4 million grant provides Gourdie with greater freedom to conduct inventive research concepts.
Gourdie received a Master’s degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Auckland and his PhD in Biophysics from the University of Canterbury. He then completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Developmental Biology and Anatomy at University College London. He served on the faculty at the Medical University of South Carolina before joining the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and Virginia Tech’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics in the College of Engineering in 2012