Bioengineering professor receives CU’s highest accolade for faculty members

September 13, 2019
Distinguished professor Robin Shandas.
Dr. Robin Shandas

Dr. Robin Shandas’ work at CU Denver extends far beyond the classroom.

In addition to building Colorado’s first stand-alone Department of Bioengineering and subsequent degree programs, Shandas has spent more than 25 years using his expertise in academia to solve real-world problems in clinical medicine. 

“Very few faculty around the world have made such a significant impact,” said Martin Dunn, dean of the CU Denver College of Engineering, Design and Computing.

In recognition of his influence on the CU system, Shandas has been selected as one of seven CU Distinguished Professors, the highest accolade bestowed on faculty members. He’s one of only 106 professors among CU’s four campuses to have earned the distinction since its inception in 1977. The Board of Regents votes on the finalists, who are selected based on outstanding performances in scholarly or creative work, student learning, and service at CU.

Very few faculty around the world have made such a significant impact.

Martin Dunn, dean of the CU Denver College of Engineering, Design and Computing

Dunn nominated Shandas, in part, for his visionary efforts in building the Department of Bioengineering across two campuses, bridging CU Denver and the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

“Professor Shandas started from ground zero and built the entire faculty, facilities, and curriculum,” Dunn wrote in his nomination letter. “He generated resources, attracted talent, and built a first-rate program with graduates that are received by industry, graduate schools, and medical schools.”

Described by his colleagues as a world-leading bioengineer, an exceptional teacher and researcher, and an innovator, Shandas’ accomplishments include but are not limited to:

  • The first and only faculty member to go through promotion and tenure at both the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the University of Colorado Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science; he joined CU Denver with tenure.
  • The first and only PhD faculty member to receive the National Institute of Health National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Career Development Award for patient-oriented research.
  • One of the few engineering faculty members whose inventions and startup efforts have had direct, quantifiable, and positive impact on patients in a variety of clinical areas. 
  • One of the few faculty members who have inventions, research grants, publications, and startup companies in multiple technical areas, including new materials and surgical operating tables. For example, stemming from a conversation with an arthroscopic surgeon, Shandas advanced the development of a novel surgical bed for hip distraction to testing in hundreds of patients in 18 months, and subsequent commercial sales of $10 million to date.
  • The mentoring of engineering and medical trainees who have had significant successes in research and leadership positions in academia and industry.

Shandas’ dedication to his academic discipline and field of study are testaments to CU Denver’s quality, reputation, and institutional impact.

“I’m grateful to CU for this recognition, and the opportunity to work on new medical technologies and research while also teaching and mentoring,” Shandas said. “I look forward to innovating new programs such as our soon-to-open medical device innovation studio where students will work with clinicians to invent the next generation of medical technologies and startup new companies.”