• Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 1964
  • M.Sc., The Ohio State University, 1961
  • B.S., University of Oklahoma, 1959

Research Areas and Descriptors


Dr. Nerem is doing research in the field of cellular and tissue engineering; in the past, he has done research on blood flow in large arteries, the role of hemodynamics in the initiation of atherosclerosis, and the influence of flow on vascular endothelial biology. He began his research career in aerospace engineering, conducting studies on heat transfer in high-temperature shock-heated gases. He began at Tech in 1987 as a Professor and Parker H. Petit Distinguished Chair for Engineering in Medicine. Also, has a joint appointment in the Georgia Tech/Emory Biomedical Engineering Department and the School of Chemical Engineering and is the Director of the Georgia Tech/Emory Center for the Engineering of Living Tissues. Prior he was a Professor and Chairman in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston.


Dr. Nerem's research projects include the development of a blood vessel substitute for use in bypass surgery, the investigation of hemodynamics as a regulator of vascular biology, and the mathematical modeling of the dynamic response of mammalian cells.

The focus of Dr. Nerem's laboratory is cellular and tissue engineering as applied to the vascular system. The projects range from understanding the role of flow and the associated shear stress on vascular endothelial biology, the influence of cyclic stretch on smooth muscle cell biology, and the tissue engineering of blood vessel substitutes. The work of the laboratory extends from the study of actin dynamics to gene expression. Of particular interest is nitric oxide and various vascular cell adhesion molecules. This tissue engineering effort uses an approach that incorporates a smooth muscle cell seeded collagen gel which has been plated with an endothelial cell interface. Both a slab version of this model of a blood vessel wall and a tubular construct version exist.

The facilities for this work are rather extensive. Important is the ability to do in vitro flow and cyclic stretch experiments. The laboratory includes a basic cell culture facility, a fluorescence microscope room, instrumentation for 2D electrophoresis and for horizontal and vertical lectrophoresis using agarose and SDS PAGE gels, northern and western blotting, an ultracentrifuge for cell fractionation, a spectrophotometer, and the necessary instrumentation to do radioisotope measurements. A special facility exists for making time resolved intracellular calcium measurements.

Sponsors of Dr. Nerem's work are the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Whitaker Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Advanced Tissue Sciences.

  • National Academy of Engineering Founders Award, 2008
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers
    • Robert Henry Thurston Lecturer, 1994
    • Dedicated Service Award, 1993
    • H. R. Lissner Award, 1989
    • Journal of Biomechanical Engineering  Technical Editor, 1988-1997
    • Fellow, 1984
  • American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering
    • Pierre Galleti Award, 2002
    • Fellow, 1992
  • Georgia Biomedical Partnership Growth Award, 2001
  • American Society for Engineering Education Theo C. Pilkington Outstanding Educator Award, 1998
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, 1998
  • Institution of Mechanical Engineers Honorary Fellow (U.K.), 1998
  • Council of Mirabelle from Lorraine (France) Member, 1996
  • Elected as Foreign Member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, 1994
  • Elected to the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 1992
  • International Union for Physical and Engineering Sciences in Medicine President, 1991-1994
  • Biomedical Engineering Society ALZA Distinguished Lecture, 1991
  • Honorary Doctorate (Docteur Honoris Causa), University of Paris, Val de Marne, 1990
  • Elected to the National Academy of Engineering, 1988
  • Cardiovascular System Dynamics Society Konrad Witzig Memorial Lecture, 1986
  • University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering Halliburton Foundation Faculty Research Excellence Award, 1984
  • Sigma Xi (Ohio State Chapter) Research Award, 1972
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society
  • J. B. Butcher and R. M. Nerem. 2004. Porcine Aortic Valve Interstitial Cells in Three-Dimensional Culture: Comparison of Phenotype with Aortic Smooth Muscle Cells. Journal of Heart Valve Disease 13(3), 478-485.
  • S. M. Kladakis and R. M. Nerem. 2004. Endothelial Cell Monolayer Formation: Effect of Substrate and Fluid Shear Stress. Endothelium 11(1), 29-44.
  • R. M. Nerem and A. E. Ensley. 2004. The Tissue Engineering of Blood Vessels and the Heart. American Journal of Transplantation 4(Supplement 6), 36-42.
  • D. Seliktar, R. M. Nerem, and Z. S. Galis. 2003. Mechanical Strain-Stimulated Remodeling of Tissue-Engineered Blood Vessel Constructs. Tissue Engineering 9(4), 657-666.
  • K. E. McCloskey, et al. 2003. Purified and Proliferating Endothelial Cells Derived and Expanded In Vitro from Embryonic Stem Cells. Endothelium 10, 329-336.