Student Research Day on April 21 Featuring Results of Hands-on Engagement Students Experience Through Biology and Biotechnololgy Programs

Article by: Melinda Eddleman

Each semester, Student Research Day is an exciting event for Del Mar College (DMC) Natural Sciences Department majors. Spring 2017 Student Research Day is this Friday, April 21, and the event will give students the opportunity to share the work they’ve completed in the laboratory. 

Students’ presentations will introduce individuals to the level of hands-on research-based engagement that they receive through the College’s biology and biotechnology programs. Student Research Day also serves to pique the interest of future scientists drawn to pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers by getting their educational start at Del Mar.

This year’s Student Research Day features keynote speaker Dr. Geert W. Schmid-Schönbein, distinguished professor and chair of the Bioengineering Department in the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). His presentation will address “Autodigestion and Proteolytic Receptor Cleavage as Basis for Cell Dysfunction and Organ Failure.”

As an educator, Dr. Schmid-Schönbein teaches bioengineering of living tissues and cell and molecular mechanics. As a scientist, he is known for his research in those mechanics and bioengineering analysis of the microcirculation in disease. His research team pioneered the role of inflammatory mechanisms in heart disease, stroke, diabetic retinopathy and other forms of pathophysiology. Recently they discovered a fundamental mechanism for cell dysfunctions and inflammation due to “Autodigestion.”

Student Research Day opens with the keynote address at 10 a.m. and runs until 12:45 p.m. in the Retama Room, second floor of the Harvin Student Center, East Campus at Baldwin and Ayers. The FREE event is open to the public with light refreshments being served. For more information, contact Dr. John “Rob” Hatherill at 698-1037 or

Some of Dr. Schmid-Schönbein’s early research discoveries involved the behavior of infection-fighting white blood cells. Using engineering techniques, he made the first determination of the force that white blood cells adhere to the walls of blood vessels as part of the initial inflammation procession. He later concluded that the survival of an acutely ill patient can hinge on the degree that white blood cells are activated. His team recently discovered a mechanism that leads to activation of white blood cells, which is due to digestive enzymes and may cause cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Schmid-Schönbein has many distinctions and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Heart Association. He is a founding fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. 

A winner of the Melville Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, he also is a recipient of the 2008 Landis Award from the Microcirculatory Society, 2009 Outstanding Educator Award in National Engineering Week and the 2015 Poiseuille Award from the International Society for Biorheology.

He is a former president of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Microcirculatory Society and the North American Society of Biorheology; a past chair of the U.S. National Committee on Biomechanics and the World Council for Biomechanics; and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

Originally from Baden Wurttemberg, Germany, Professor Schmid-Schönbein became a U.S. citizen and received his Ph.D. in bioengineering from UCSD in 1976. After a three-year post-doctoral fellowship at Columbia University, he returned to UCSD in 1979 as an assistant professor.

Over his career, Dr. Schmid-Schönbein has published over 385 peer-reviewed research reports, several books and patents.

IN THE PHOTO: Bioengineering researcher Dr. Geert W. Schmid-Schönbein, a distinguished professor and chair of the Bioengineering Department at the University of California San Diego, will speak about his latest findings during the Spring 2017 Student Research Day at Del Mar College. 


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