Natacha DePaola serves as the Carol and Ed Kaplan Armour Dean of Engineering and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois, USA (2009-present).
Dr. DePaola received the BS in Mechanical Engineering from the Universidad Simon Bolivar, Caracas- Venezuela (1984), an MS in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1987), and a Ph.D. degree in Medical Engineering/Medical Physics from the Division of Health Science and Technology at Harvard Medical School – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1991). She completed her postdoctoral training at Columbia University in the Artificial Organs Research Laboratory (1992), where she also held a position as an adjunct assistant professor of chemical engineering. In 1993 she moved to Northwestern University as an assistant professor of biomedical engineering. In 1994, she joined the biomedical engineering faculty at RPI where she served as assistant, associate, and full professor, and department head from 2004-2009. Dr. DePaola also held an adjunct faculty position at the Center for Cardiovascular Sciences at the Albany Medical College.
Dr. DePaola’s research interests are in the broad area of biofluid dynamics, cell mechanics, cell and tissue engineering, cell bioreactor design, and bioelectromagnetism at the cell and molecular level. Her research investigates the role of physical mechanisms on cellular behavior, stressing its importance in the understanding of human disease, the development of new therapies, and the engineering of functional tissues. A major emphasis of her research is on hemodynamic regulation of vascular cell function in early atherosclerosis, gap junctional intercellular communication, and biophysical regulation of mammalian cell function with applications to vascular, bone, and neural tissue engineering. In her role as Engineering Dean, Dr. DePaola is committed to excellence in technology-focused education with a renewed emphasis on entrepreneurial and ethical practice of engineering. She is leading distinctive education initiatives emphasized by the opportunity to apply ongoing learning and technical knowledge to the solution of current problems of global impact.
Dr. DePaola has published over 90 highly cited scientific journal manuscripts, proceedings, and technical reports. She is a co-inventor of the following technologies: “Diamagnetic Force Field Bioreactor” U.S. Pat. No. 7,482,154, 2009; “Method for the Functional Endothelialization of Implantable Endovascular Devices” USPTO No. 10/574,388 (pending), and “Body Cooling Device and Method” USPTO No. 60/773,947 (pending). Dr. DePaola is a co-founder, co-owner, and past president of TermoMechanica, Inc., which within the health science area focuses in the development of instrumentation for biomedical research and diagnostics.
Dr. DePaola has received various awards and recognitions including the 2012 IEEE Woman in Engineering Award, the Carol and Ed Kaplan Endowed Chair Professorship (2009), Chicago’s Women of Achievement Award (2009), a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1996, and selection to the 5th Japan-USA-Singapore-China Conference on Biomechanics US delegation (1998). She is a Frontiers Alumna of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), Frontiers of Engineering (1997).
Dr. DePaola is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), The Society of Woman Engineers (SWE), the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and the Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC). She is also a member of Tau Beta Pi Association and The Scientific Research Society (Sigma Xi) and a former member of the Board of Editors of MCB: Molecular and Cellular Biomechanics Journal. Dr. DePaola had served on the Strategic Initiatives Committee of the Harvard-MIT Health Science and Technology (HST) Advisory Council and on the Advisory Committee for the Severino Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (Lally School of Management, Rensselaer). She currently serves in the Public Policy Committee of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), the Advisory Board of the Perdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, the Executive Committee of the Global Engineering Deans Council (GDEC), and the Board of Directors of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Technology and Education (NIPTE).