Thomas C. Skalak, Ph.D.

Date(s) - 10/29/2018
3:00 pm

Communicore, C1-17

Senior Advisor, Clara Wu and Joe Tsai Foundation, Vice President for Research Emeritus, University of Virginia Biomedical Engineering for Life in a Rapidly Changing World

Thomas C. Skalak, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research Emeritus,
University of Virginia

The world is changing rapidly in this 21st century, and healthcare challenges are shifting along with it.  At the same time, foundational knowledge of living systems and human biology is increasing at an exponential rate, offering radical new opportunities for biomedical engineering.  Improving healthcare and healthy lifespan will require today’s pioneers to explore new ways of designing medical technology, creating models of disease, and engineering interventions that make sense in a complex adaptive system.  We will discuss elements of the innovative mindset needed to harness the new knowledge, some surprising developments in biology itself, and promising BME approaches to various disease states.


Tom Skalak joined the Clara Wu and Joe Tsai Foundation in 2018 as Senior Advisor to Clara Wu. The Foundation makes philanthropic investments in science, economic mobility, and the arts, with a vision to produce a transformative impact on societal well-being and sustainability. Biomedical sciences and translational research are major directions. Tom is Vice President for Research Emeritus of the University of Virginia and was previously the founding Executive Director of The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group in Seattle. In these roles, Tom led creative synthesis of research and innovation programs spanning biosciences, environmental sustainability, physical sciences, engineering, arts, design, and humanities. Tom’s original research included cardiovascular biomechanics, angiogenesis, computational modeling, and regenerative medicine. He is a past President of both the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). He was the founder of the UVA-Coulter Foundation Translational Research Partnership, a successful early-stage investment fund. Tom is Chair of the External Advisory Council of the MIT Science and Technology Center on engineering multicellular systems and a Council Member of the Government, University, Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR) of the U.S. National Academies. Tom was educated as a bioengineer at The Johns Hopkins University (B.E.S. 1979) and the University of California, San Diego (Ph.D. 1984), was a Resident Artist at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in 2018, and is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.