Campus News Science & Technology

Bioengineer Karen Burg named UGA Harbor Lights Chair in Small Animal Studies

Karen Burg (Credit: Courtesy of the National Society for Histotechnology)

Athens, Ga. – Karen J.L. Burg, a bioengineer whose cutting-edge work centers on absorbable polymers, biofabrication and tissue engineering, will join the faculty of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in January as its Harbor Lights Chair in Small Animal Studies.

Burg is one of five professors to be hired under UGA President Jere W. Morehead’s Presidential Extraordinary Research Faculty Hiring Initiative, which launched in 2014 to help bring internationally recognized scholars to UGA.

“Dr. Burg brings an extraordinary record of accomplishment to the University of Georgia, and she will play a significant role in expanding this institution’s capacity to inquire and innovate to improve human health,” said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

Seven of Burg’s inventions have been patented, one of which is the basis of a biomedical company that focuses on developing tools to help doctors quickly diagnose and combat breast cancer. Her work in the laboratory includes building arrangements of cells, taken from patients, to assist in the identification of early stage diseases. Her research team is also finding ways to use normal, healthy cells to build replacement parts for cancer or bone trauma patients who have had unhealthy or damaged tissue removed.

“Dr. Burg will collaborate with our faculty working in regenerative medicine who are focused on treating conditions in animals and humans that will benefit from cells and tissues grown in the laboratory,” said Sheila W. Allen, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Burg earned her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, with a minor in biochemical engineering, from North Carolina State University and master’s and doctoral degrees in bioengineering from Clemson University. She subsequently completed a tissue engineering postdoctoral fellowship at Carolinas Medical Center.

Burg joins UGA from Kansas State University, where she served as vice president for research and a professor of chemical engineering since 2014. Previously, Burg served as the interim vice provost and dean of the Graduate School at Clemson University and interim vice provost for research and innovation, during which time she established the South Carolina Institute for Biological Interfaces of Engineering. Burg joined the Clemson University faculty in 1999 as an assistant professor of bioengineering. In 2005, she was promoted to full professor and was named the university’s Hunter Endowed Chair and professor of bioengineering; in 2015 she was named Hunter Endowed Chair and professor emerita at Clemson University.

“The College of Veterinary Medicine research initiatives are focused on both animal and human health; it will be exciting to find ways to connect engineering tools with these efforts,” Burg said. “I’m looking forward to working with clinicians and researchers to identify projects that advance clinical practice and medical science while helping train students, residents and interns.”

UGA College of Veterinary Medicine
The UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, founded in 1946, is dedicated to training future veterinarians, conducting research related to animal and human diseases and providing veterinary services for animals and their owners. Research efforts are aimed at enhancing the quality of life for animals and people, improving the productivity of poultry and livestock and preserving a healthy interface between wildlife and people in the environment they share. The college enrolls 114 students each fall out of more than 1,100 who apply. For more information, see