UTA bioengineering assistant professor named American Heart Association Fellow

Yi Hong, an assistant professor in the Bioengineering Department at The University of Texas at Arlington, has been named a Fellow of the American Heart Association, one of the most prestigious professional organizations for outstanding contributions in science, medicine, volunteerism and leadership in heart health.

Hong was cited by the AHA’s Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences for developing biomaterials for cardiovascular disease treatment. He will be formally inducted at the organization’s meeting July 10-13 in Portland, Oregon.

“I’m very happy to have earned this honor, and I have to thank the AHA for recognizing my contributions to cardiovascular disease treatment and my service to the organization,” Hong said. “I have worked with AHA for several years, and I look forward to continuing to work with them in research and education on cardiovascular disease.”

Hong won a five-year $500,000 National Science Foundation Early Career Development, or CAREER, Program grant in February 2016 to create conductive, single-component and biodegradable elastomers. Hong’s technology is a significant advancement over conventional conductive polymers that are very stiff, hard to be processed and non-degradable.

In April, he was awarded a $200,000 R21 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop materials that will allow doctors to use a 3-D printer to create unique new blood vessels for children with vascular defects.

Hong’s research, and that of his colleagues across the University, is an example of excellence in health and the human condition, one of the themes of the Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions|Global Impact, said Michael Cho, professor and chair of the Bioengineering Department.

“It is indeed an honor to be elected as a Fellow of the American Heart Association,” said Cho. “It recognizes Dr. Hong’s scientific accomplishments by one of the most influential organizations of cardiovascular and stroke professionals. The fact that he was named a Fellow while he is an assistant professor speaks volumes of his research prowess and the clinical importance of design and application of biomaterials to cardiovascular diseases and potential tissue repair.”

Hong has been the primary investigator on research grants totaling more than $1 million since beginning his career, including an American Heart Association grant to develop a bioactive heart patch that will help restore heart function after a heart attack. He also has been involved with other projects as a co-principal investigator in that time. His research interests include biomaterials, tissue engineering, medical devices and drug delivery.

Hong holds 10 issued/applied patents and has authored or co-authored more than 60 journal articles. He is a member of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society, the Biomedical Engineering Society and the Society for Biomaterials.

He earned his doctoral degree at Zhejiang University in 2005 and was a post-doctoral associate and research assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where he received PITT Innovator Awards in 2009 and 2010. He joined the UTA Department of Bioengineering in 2012.

Hong is the fourth AHA Fellow in the Bioengineering Department, joining Jun Liao, Kytai Nguyen, and Liping Tang. Beth Mancini, a senior associate dean in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, is also a fellow of the organization.

UTA’s growing Bioengineering Department is a leader in engineering solutions for cardiovascular disease. In addition to Hong’s grants, the department recently won a National Institutes of Health T-32 grant that allows it to subsidize and train doctoral students in healthcare applications for nanotechnology, specifically to develop tools to battle cardiovascular and pulmonary ailments. Professor Khosrow Behbehani, Associate Professor Young-tae Kim, and Principal Research Scientist Muthu Wijesundara are developing a new method and device for controlling blood pressure levels in cardiac care environments that use targeted electrical stimulation rather than drugs.