PhD, University of Texas, Austin, 1996BS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1992

Dean West’s formidable record of accomplishments spans 25 years as a transformational researcher, award-winning teacher and mentor, inventor and entrepreneur. Her research focuses on the use of biomaterials, nanotechnology and tissue engineering, applying engineering approaches to studying biological problems and solving unmet medical needs, particularly in the fight against cancer. Dean West came to UVA from Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, where she was the Fitzpatrick Family University Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Associate Dean for Ph.D. Education, with appointments in biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering and materials science. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors, with 19 patents that have been licensed to eight different companies. One company, Nanospectra Biosciences Inc., co-founded by West, is running human clinical trials of a cancer therapy she invented. Her priorities as Dean of Engineering at UVA include building upon the school’s research trajectory, increasing experiential learning opportunities for students and ensuring a clear pathway to entrepreneurship for faculty and students.


  • Member. National Academy of Engineering. 2016
  • Member, National Academy of Inventors 2017
  • President's Circle Lecturer. National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine 2017
  • Capers and Marion McDonald Teaching and Research Award, Duke University Pratt School of Engineering 2016
  • Clemson Award, Society for Biomaterials 2015
  • 2016 Clemson Award, Society for Biomaterials 2015
  • ACS Editors' Choice Manuscript, ACS Journals 2015
  • Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher in Materials Science, Thomson Reuters 2014
  • Admiral of the Texas Navy, Governor of Texas 2012
  • Best Discovery of 2003, Nanotechnology Now 2012
  • BioHouston's 2009 Women in Science Award 2012
  • CAREER Award, National Science Foundation 2012
  • Duncan Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement, Rice University 2012
  • Excellence in Research Mentorship Award, Rice University 2012
  • Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering 2021
  • Fellow, Biomedical Engineering Society 2012
  • Frank Annunzio Award, Christopher Columbus Foundation 2012
  • HSEMB Outstanding Young Scientist Award 2012
  • Hershel M. Rich Invention Award, Rice University 2012
  • Inventor of the Year Award, State Bar of Texas 2012
  • J. M. Chance Prize for Excellence in Teaching, Rice University 2012
  • Most Cited Paper, Annual of Biomedical Engineering 2012
  • Most Highly Cited Papers, NanoLetters 2012
  • Nanotechnology Researchers of the Year, Small Times Magazine 2012
  • O'Donnell Award in Engineering, The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas 2012
  • Outstanding Faculty Associate. Weiss College, Rice University 2012
  • Outstanding Research in Drug Delivery Award. Cygnus-CRS 2012
  • Outstanding Younger Investigator Award. Society for Biomaterials 2012
  • Parke-Davis Atorvastatin Research Award 2012
  • Quantum Award. National Institute of Health, NIBIB 2012
  • Samuel Lunden Scholarship. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2012
  • Secretariat Lecturer. American Chemical Society 2012
  • Tech Review TR 100 Most Innovative Young Scientists. MIT Technology Review 2012
  • University Fellow 2012
  • HHMI Professor. Howard Hughes Medical Institute 2006
  • Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering 2005
  • Young Investigator Award, Society for Biomaterials 2000

Research Interests

  • Biomaterials and biofunctional materials
  • Biosynthesis
  • Nanotechnology and tissue engineering

In the News

Selected Publications

  • 3D printing of high-strength, porous, elastomeric structures to promote tissue integration of implants. ABS Abar, B; Alonso-Calleja, A; Kelly, A; Kelly, C; Gall, K; West, JL, Journal of Biomedical Materials Research. Part A, vol 109 no. 1 (2021), pp. 54-63
  • Modulating functionalized poly(Ethylene glycol) diacrylate hydrogel mechanical properties through competitive crosslinking mechanics for soft tissue applications ABS Chapla, R; Abed, MA; West, J, Polymers, vol 12 no. 12 (2020), pp. 1-16
  • Chemically Orthogonal Protein Ligation Domains for Independent Control of Hydrogel Modification with Adhesive Ligands and Growth Factors ABS Hammer, JA; West, JL. Bioconjugate Chemistry, vol 31 no. 11 (2020), pp. 2504-2512
  • Synthetic ECM: Bioactive Synthetic Hydrogels for 3D Tissue Engineering ABS Unal, AZ; West, JL. Bioconjugate Chemistry, vol 31 no. 10 (2020), pp. 2253-2271
  • Using Tools from Optogenetics to Create Light-Responsive Biomaterials: LOVTRAP-PEG Hydrogels for Dynamic Peptide Immobilization ABS Hammer, JA; Ruta, A; West, JL. Annals of Biomedical Engineering, vol 48 no. 7 (2020), pp. 1885-1894