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BME Welcomes Two Exciting New Faculty Members for the Fall of ‘22

Joyita Dutta and Frank Zhang

Joyita Dutta and Frank Zhang

The Biomedical Engineering (BME) Department is privileged to greet two new faculty members, who come to UMass Amherst beginning in the fall of 2022. These accomplished academics and researchers are Xiaohui "Frank" Zhang, who arrives at the BME department after being appointed a tenured professor at Lehigh University, and Joyita Dutta, who has been serving as an associate professor with tenure at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Zhang has been leading an interdisciplinary Lehigh research team that integrates biophysics, biochemistry, material science, and biology toward the development of bioinspired nanomaterials that could provide a new treatment to a host of human diseases. His team specializes in mechanosensing -- how molecules and cells sense and respond to mechanical stimuli.

Zhang’s efforts focus on the biomechanical mechanisms of protein folding, conformational change, and protein-protein interactions. Zhang’s group is also active in the development and application of single-molecule force spectroscopic approaches to study cell adhesion and migration.

In the lab, Zhang uses single-molecule force spectroscopy to monitor, manipulate, and measure mechanical forces. The team's ultimate goal is to develop a mechanically switchable nanodevice for targeted drug therapy for ailments such as stroke, thrombosis, and atherosclerosis.

Prior to joining the Lehigh faculty, Zhang served as a postdoctoral fellow in Biophysics at Harvard Medical School and as principal investigator at the Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Zhang earned his Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Miami School of Medicine, his M.S. in Biophysics at the University of Hong Kong, and his B.Sc. in Physics at Sun Yat-sen University.

Zhang’s work has been published in journals such as Science, Nature, and Blood, and he has presented at conferences around the world. He is a member of the American Heart Association, the American Association of Immunologists, the American Society for Hematology, the Biophysical Society, and the American Physiological Society. He is also the founding co-president of the International Society for Mechanobiology.

Dutta received her B.Tech. in Electronics and Electrical Communication Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India, in 2004 and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California in 2006 and 2011 respectively. In 2011, she joined Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston as a research fellow and later became an instructor there.

Dutta joined the University of Massachusetts Lowell as an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2015. In 2019, she was promoted to the rank of associate professor with tenure.

Dutta’s research interests include developing signal processing and deep learning techniques for biomedical applications, including Alzheimer’s neuroimaging, brain network analysis, and wearables data analytics for sleep and personal health monitoring.

In 2013, Dutta received a Young Investigator Award from the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI). She was also a recipient of the SNMMI Mitzi & William Blahd MD Pilot Research Grant, an American Lung Association Senior Research Training Fellowship, and a National Institutes of Health K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award.

In 2016, Dutta received the Tracy Lynn Faber Memorial Award for the advancement of women in biomedical sciences from the SNMMI in recognition of her “outstanding contributions in multimodality and molecular image reconstruction and analysis." She also received the 2016 Bruce Hasegawa Young Investigator Medical Imaging Science Award “for contributions to image reconstruction and analysis for molecular and multimodality imaging in the areas of positron emission tomography and fluorescence tomography.”

Dutta is the vice-president-elect of the SNMMI Physics, Instrumentation, and Data Sciences Council and is the program co-chair of the 2022 IEEE Medical Imaging Conference in Milan, Italy.

(August 2022)