Karen J.L. Burg, a bioengineer whose cutting-edge work centers on absorbable polymers, biofabrication and tissue engineering, joined the faculty of UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine Jan. 8 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 also is 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.