UW Today

This is an archived article.

February 12, 2009

O’Donnell, Auth elected to National Academy of Engineering

News and Information

Matthew O’Donnell, dean of the University of Washington’s College of Engineering and professor in the department of bioengineering, and David Auth, a UW affiliate professor in bioengineering and consultant based in Kirkland, Wash., have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

They are among 65 new members and nine foreign associates announced by the academy recently, making a total of nine active UW faculty who are academy members. Election to the academy is among the highest professional distinctions accorded an engineer.

In electing O’Donnell, the academy cited his “contributions to biomedical ultrasonics and real-time ultrasound imaging technologies.”

His research uses high-frequency energy pulses to perform noninvasive medical imaging. Research interests include ultrafast optics, in-vivo microscopy, catheter imaging of coronary arteries, optoacoustic arrays, and elasticity and molecular imaging.

O’Donnell came to the UW in 2006 to hold the first Frank and Julie Jungers Endowed Deanship in Engineering. Previously he served 10 years as chair of the biomedical engineering department at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. O’Donnell earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in physics at Notre Dame University in Indiana. Early in his career he held appointments at Washington University in St. Louis and Yale University, and then spent 10 years in the private sector at General Electric Co. in Schenectady, N.Y. before joining the University of Michigan faculty in 1990. O’Donnell holds some 55 patents and is author or co-author on more than 300 publications. He is associate editor of the journal Ultrasonic Imaging, is a fellow of both the technology professional organization IEEE and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and a member of the American Physical Society. He has consulted widely for medical device businesses and currently serves on the scientific advisory board of several companies, including Mirabilis Medica of Bothell, Wash.

“Being elected to the National Academy of Engineering is a true honor,” said UW Provost Phyllis Wise. “It is a great recognition of Dean O’Donnell’s contributions and accomplishments. The College of Engineering and the UW benefit greatly from his experience and his leadership.”

The academy cited Auth “for the invention and application of minimally invasive devices for the treatment of gastrointestinal bleeding and coronary artery obstructions.”

Auth was a UW professor of electrical engineering from 1969 to 1982, and has been a UW affiliate professor in bioengineering since 1985. He earned his doctorate in physics from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and spent many years as an academic while becoming increasingly involved in the medical-device industry. His research career focused on developing least-invasive surgical tools, including endoscopes and catheters.

In 1981 Auth developed the Rotablator, a minimally invasive tool that removes calcified plaque from coronary arteries. With that device he founded Heart Technology Inc. and led that company until 1995, when it was acquired by Boston Scientific Corp. at an estimated annual revenue of $80 million. Auth holds approximately 100 patents in the medical-device field, and has worked with local companies including Coaptus Medical Corp. of Redmond, Wash., and Pathway Medical Technologies of Kirkland, Wash. The UW School of Medicine named him the 2006 Inventor of the Year.

Jeffrey Dean, who earned his doctorate in computer science and engineering at the UW in 1996, also was elected this year to the National Academy of Engineering. He now works at Google Inc. in Mountain View, Calif. Dean was recognized “for contributions to the science and engineering of large-scale distributed computer systems.”

The National Academy of Engineering operates under the charter, signed in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln, which established the National Academy of Sciences. According to the academy, membership honors those who have made “important contributions to engineering theory and practice” and those who have demonstrated “unusual accomplishment in the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology.”