Ranu Jung to Lead Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research

Ranu Jung
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Ranu Jung

Ranu Jung has been named the founding executive director of the Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research (I³R). She will begin in December.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Jung to the University of Arkansas,” said Charles Robinson, interim chancellor. “The Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research will propel the University of Arkansas as a global leader in discovery and applied innovation, and Dr. Jung is the ideal leader to help take us there. She is a world-renowned researcher and visionary.”

With the foresight, commitment and backing of the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, I³R aims to expand the scope of discoveries made by U of A researchers and rapidly move them to the marketplace, where they can improve or save lives.

Jung sees the transformative potential of I³R.

"As the university celebrates its sesquicentennial — ‘150 years. 150 years of trailblazers. 150 years of challenges. 150 years of dreams achieved. 150 years of progress’ — I am deeply honored to have been selected as the founding executive director of I³R, a visionary, pioneering, trans-disciplinary institute,” Jung said. “We will nurture creativity, foster inclusivity and draw from all that our community has to offer, to pursue research excellence and transform discoveries, to create the future NOW — for the university, for Northwest Arkansas, for the nation and for all humankind."

Jung is one of the world’s foremost researchers in biomedical and neural engineering, with more than $27 million in research grants awarded as a principal or co-principal investigator, more than 100 refereed publications and 12 U.S. patents. A champion for innovation and entrepreneurship, she develops devices that lead to scientific advances with clear pathways to clinical application. She and her research team created the first wireless, implantable, neural-interface system for restoring sensations to amputees and received FDA approval to conduct first-in-human trials.

“Dr. Ranu Jung brings the perfect mix of skills for this critical position: passion, leadership, research prowess, collaboration across disciplines and engagement with industry,” said Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward. “Her experience in translating discoveries, partnering with biomedical firms and entrepreneurship will advance the university’s mission and lead to transformational change of the Northwest Arkansas economy with a ripple effect that could positively impact the entire state.”

As the inaugural executive director of I³R, Jung will play an essential role developing the new research building, hiring the directors and faculty for the five innovation clusters within the institute, building industry partnerships and supporting the Collaborative in Bentonville. She will report to the vice chancellor for research and innovation, John English, and the interim vice chancellor for economic development, David Snow. I³R is made possible through a $194.7 million grant from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation.

“Dr. Jung’s leadership, commitment to diversity and success in commercialization make her the perfect person to make I³R the standard for integrative innovation and university outreach,” English said. “Her groundbreaking work in neural engineering will put the U of A at the forefront of this exciting field and will help attract outstanding researchers to build on the success of our innovation clusters.” 

Jung most recently held the Wallace H. Coulter Eminent Scholar endowed Chair in Biomedical Engineering at Florida International University, where she served as professor and head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering since 2011. At FIU, she led the Adaptive Neural Systems Laboratory, designing and developing technology to offset the effects of limb amputation, orthopedic injury and disease, and other neurodegenerative diseases. She also served as FIU’s interim dean of the College of Engineering and Computing from 2015 to 2017. Previously she was a member of the faculty at Arizona State University and University of Kentucky. Among her many honors, Jung was named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2017, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in 2013 and the Biomedical Engineering Society in 2020. 

“Dr. Ranu Jung is a transformational leader in the field of biomedical engineering and a great partner to the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation,” said Susan Racher, vice president and chief financial officer of the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. “She embodies the very best attributes of the biomedical engineering field: pedagogical inspiration and the entrepreneurial expertise to translate innovative discoveries to advance patient health care. We will greatly miss Dr. Jung’s enriching presence in Miami, but we are excited about the contributions that she and her talented team will make to their field, to patient care and to the University of Arkansas.”

Al Emondi, program manager in the Biological Technologies Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, called Jung a true pioneer in her field.

“It was a privilege to have her as part of the DARPA HAPTIX team,” Emondi said. “Her ability to develop new exploratory neural interface approaches coupled with her ability to smartly leverage existing technologies provided a unique opportunity to provide early proof of concept for future sensory prosthetics.”

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the top 3% of U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.

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