Award is given annually by Yale University Graduate School to honor distinguished alumni
By Lindsay Brownell
(BOSTON) — Wyss Institute Founding Director Don Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., has been named a 2021 recipient of Yale University’s Wilbur Cross Medal for Alumni Achievement.
The Wilbur Cross Medal is the highest honor that Yale Graduate School bestows on its alumni. It was established in 1966 to honor a small number of alumni for outstanding achievements in scholarship, teaching, academic administration, and public service–all areas in which the legendary Dean Cross excelled.
The award is given to scholars across the breadth of disciplines, from biology to economics to art history, and nominees are put forth by their peers as leaders in their respective fields, true innovators and world-changing thinkers. They are among the best examples of what can be accomplished with a doctoral degree after leaving Yale.
“I spent 11 years of the most formative part of my life at Yale, and without the rich and diverse experiences I had there, I would not be who I am today. Receiving this award from this institution that I respect and appreciate so deeply is a huge honor for me, and I look forward to returning to Yale to share this occasion with the other incredible recipients, and to spend time once again with their students, staff and faculty,” said Ingber who is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and Vascular Biology Program, Boston Children’s Hospital, as well as Professor of Bioengineering at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Ingber received his B.A., M.A., M.Phil., M.D. and Ph.D. from Yale University. It was there that he first made the connections between the structural principle of tensegrity and cellular architecture, and between extracellular matrix mechanics and cancer formation. This work has led to advances in our understanding of how physical forces influence the behavior and function of living cells that drive normal and malignant tissue development.
Ingber’s discovery of the fundamental importance of mechanical forces in biology has driven the creation of the Wyss Institute’s human organs-on-chips, which have proven to successfully recapitulate human organ-level functions and disease states in vitro, in addition to having impact in virtually all fields of biology and medicine. In addition to pioneering the field of mechanobiology, his work has led to major advances in tumor angiogenesis, tissue engineering, systems biology, nanobiotechnology, and translational medicine. Ingber’s vision also led to the founding of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard in 2009, where he has since served as its Director.
Wilbur Lucius Cross was a scholar of distinction in English literature. He taught at the Sheffield Scientific School, the precursor to Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and served as Dean during the Graduate School’s reorganization into its present form. He also rejuvenated the Yale Review as its editor. After serving 36 years at Yale, he embarked on a second career as a four-term governor of Connecticut, where he reorganized the state government and implemented public works programs including the state’s first modern highway system.
Joining Ingber as 2021 Wilbur Cross Medal awardees are Anat Admati, Ph.D., Tamer Basar, Ph.D., and Mary Miller, Ph.D. Previous recipients of the award include former Chair of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen, Ph.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health and former leader of the Human Genome Project Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., and noted Shakespearean scholar and author Stephen Greenblatt, Ph.D.