Meet Our Chair

It has been said, “You can’t improve what you can’t measure.” As the biomedical sciences accumulate diverse, multidimensional data sets at increasing rates, future innovation depends on our ability to develop quantitative approaches to extract meaningful insights that have not been achievable using existing approaches to data visualization and analysis.

Developing imaging modalities and computational algorithms to advance our understanding of cell development, wound healing, immune response and cancer metastasis requires broad collaboration with basic scientists, clinicians, IT professionals, academic leaders and funding entities. The founding chair, Gaudenz Danuser, attributes a big part of the success in forming the Department, and the scientific discoveries that have already resulted, to a great willingness in the UTSW community to establish this type of collaboration.

As a young musician, who later trained as an engineer (geodetic and electrical engineering/computer science), it was Danuser’s truly interdisciplinary thinking that led him to recognize the value of “measurement” for biomedical sciences. After completing his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, he immersed himself in cellular architecture, mechanics and live cell imaging, completing his postdoctoral training at the Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory, and directing research laboratories in his faculty positions at ETH Zurich (Mechanical Engineering), The Scripps Research Institute (Cell Biology) and Harvard Medical School (Cell Biology).

Musical Composition by Danuser
"Symphony of the Cell" J Cell Biol interview with Danuser

Since joining UTSW in 2012, his research has focused on understanding the implications of mechanical and chemical cell shape regulation in migration and survival of the metastatic cell, including the roles mechanical cues play in conferring what his lab calls ‘mechanical drug resistance’. A devoted teacher, Danuser co-chairs the computational and systems biology track in UTSW's graduate school and teaches in areas of computational cell biology, cellular biophysics, and the theory of measurement applied to cell biology. He is also extensively engaged in educational programs at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, and is the founding director of an NIH-funded course in Computational Image Analysis in Cell and Developmental Biology. As the Department’s inaugural chair, his role is centered on supporting the science and career ambitions of every department member, and maintaining existing and developing new collaborative relationships.