West, the Isabel C. Cameron Professor of Bioengineering and Professor of Chemical Engineering, is internationally recognized for cutting-edge research in two of bioengineering's most competitive fields -- nanotechnology and tissue engineering. West will receive the award at a gala this evening in Washington, D.C.
"This award places Jennifer West squarely within the nation's scientific elite," said Rice President David Leebron. "Her research -- especially her use of revolutionary technologies in the treatment of disease --holds extraordinary promise to improve the health and well being of us all."
Past winners of the Annunzio Award, the foundation's highest honor, include Dr. James Thomson, the first researcher to isolate and culture embryonic stem cells; Nobel laureate Dr. James Cobey, an active leader in the International Campaign to Ban Landmines; influential architect Michael Graves, who designed several buildings on the Rice campus; and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, a pioneer in the study of AIDS and HIV.
"Considering the achievements of past Annunzio Award winners is both awe-inspiring and humbling," said West. "Their broad-ranging efforts toward the betterment of mankind are inspiring, and I am deeply honored to join them."
West's research in biomaterials and tissue engineering focuses on the synthesis, development and application of novel biofunctional materials. In one project, her group is creating new materials for small-diameter vascular grafts that could eliminate the need for doctors to use veins from a patient's leg for heart bypass surgery.