Over the past nine months, James Anderson’s work has been recognized university- and nationwide. In August, he was one of five faculty members to be named a Distinguished University Professor at Case Western Reserve University. In January, he earned the 2013 Acta Biomaterials Gold Medal from the American Physical Society. And just 19 days later, in February, Anderson was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering, marking his second membership in a national academy after becoming selected for the Institute of Medicine in 2003.
During commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 19, Case Western Reserve will honor Anderson yet again, this time with the Frank and Dorothy Humel Hovorka Prize. Given to those who have made extraordinary contributions to their academic field and to Case Western Reserve, the award is considered one of the highest forms of recognition a faculty member can receive.
This award is especially significant for Anderson, who knew Frank Hovorka while he was on the faculty at Case Western Reserve. “I am certainly honored to receive this award,” Anderson said. “This has special meaning in regards to Dr. Hovorka as a role model and mentor for faculty and students, and his commitment to excellence.”
Anderson—also a member of the Association of American Physicians and American Academy for the Advancement of Science—has taught at Case Western Reserve for 45 years. A professor of pathology, macromolecular science and biomedical engineering, his career has been defined by innovation and collaboration.
Shortly after his arrival on campus in 1967 as a postdoctoral investigator in chemistry, Anderson began growing his knowledge by conducting biomedical polymer research at the Case School of Engineering. He developed a graduate-level course, “Polymers in Medicine,” before expanding his reach even further and enrolling at the School of Medicine in 1972. While studying medicine, he continued to teach and conduct research at the engineering school. He graduated from medical school in 1976, completed his residency in 1979 and then became an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve.
Much of his research career has focused on the safety of implantable devices. He discovered that inflammatory cells could degrade polyurethanes—such as those used in pacemakers—and lead to the devices’ failure. The information he provided allowed experts in other fields to develop new chemical structures for more stable polyurethanes that would not degrade or fail.
More recently, he teamed with researchers at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Massachusetts startup to conduct the first in-human tests of a wirelessly controlled microchip implant. Published in February 2012, the results drew global attention.
Throughout his career, Anderson has published more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and 80 book chapters. He also has received continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1970.
Anderson is a sought-after consultant to the Federal Drug Administration, NIH and medical device and pharmaceutical companies.
He has won numerous national and international awards, including an honorary degree from the University of Geneva, the 2005 Elsevier Gold Medal, the 2006 Chugai Mentoring Award from the American Society of Pathology and a Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2007.