NIH Training Program in Biomolecular Technology Leadership

Meet the Training Grant's Leadership Team

Kent Leach

Prof. J. Kent Leach, Prof. Kent Leach, professor of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedic Surgery, is the Director of the NIH T32 Training Program in Biomolecular Technology at UC Davis . His research is in the area of regenerative medicine, and he strives to make an impact as an educator and mentor. Prof. Leach’s research is focused on developing strategies to regulate the rate of bone formation to treat patients across the lifespan, from infant children to aged patients with osteoporosis or other bone-related maladies, by designing biomaterials to harness the healing potential of stem and progenitor cells. He has developed new biomaterials for cell delivery and worked to advance novel approaches toward human clinical trials. Prof. Leach has been continually funded throughout his career by the NIH, Department of Defense, California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), and various foundations and industry partners. He has published over 80 peer reviewed papers and book chapters. He is a standing member on the NIH Biomaterials and BioInterfaces (BMBI) study section, and he was elected to the America’s Council for the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society, the flagship organization for the field of tissue engineering. He is also involved in the entrepreneurial activities of the TEAM (Translating Engineering Advances to Medicine) Design, Prototyping, and Fabrication Facilities at UCD. His laboratory is highly translational, leveraging strong collaborations with clinicians and veterinarians to test treatment strategies in animal models with clinical relevance. Prof. Leach has been an active member of the DEB program, mentoring one student on the current NIH T32 Biotechnology training grant within the last 5 years. He is Chair of the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Group, a collection of 77 faculty overseeing students across 4 colleges. In addition to teaching courses at the undergraduate and graduate level, he works closely with 30-40 students per year in preparing traineeship applications to the NIH, NSF, and various foundations. He is an active mentor to trainees keen to contribute to biomedical engineering and biotechnology, having trained 20 graduate students, 4 post-docs, 33 undergraduates, 4 residents from the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, and 3 visiting scholars. He received the 2014 Outstanding Engineering Teaching Faculty Award for his novel teaching approaches and the 2015 Mentoring at Critical Transitions Fellowship to test an innovative system designed to assist students across campus in matching laboratories and major professors with their unique needs to achieve success in graduate school and beyond.

Joanna Chiu

Prof. Joanna C. Chiu is an Associate Director of this training grant and an Associate Professor of Entomology and Nematology who investigates the regulation of animal circadian rhythms by using a combination of molecular genetics, biochemical, and proteomic approaches. Her work in circadian biology has been continuously funded by NIH since 2005 and NSF since 2013. Circadian rhythms drive daily oscillations of physiological states and activities including sleep and feeding, allowing organisms to perform necessary tasks at biologically advantageous times of day. The overall goal of her research is to dissect the molecular network and cellular mechanisms that control the circadian oscillator in animals, and investigate how this molecular oscillator interact with the environment and cellular metabolism to drive rhythms of physiology and behavior. She recently developed projects that accelerate agricultural research using modern genomic approaches, aimed to facilitate basic and applied agricultural research, develop new strategies to control invasive pests, and contribute to long-term sustainability in global food security. In addition to research activities, she is dedicated to training and mentoring of the next generation of scientists. She is the chair of the admissions committee for the Biochemistry, Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology Graduate Group and previously served as chair for the Entomology Graduate Group. Since arriving at UCD in 2010, she established the Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology for Undergraduates, which aims to provide a closely mentored research experience to enhance undergraduate education and encourage motivated students to explore a research career. She also actively participates in the mentoring of URM students in STEM, as well as coordinating outreach activities and workshops in collaboration with the Sacramento Children’s Home (SCH) for underprivileged and foster children. Prof. Chiu is an active faculty member in the DEB program and the current Biomolecular Technology Training Program.


Luis Carvajal-Carmona

Prof. Carvajal-Carmona is an Associate Director of this training grant and an Assistant Professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine in the School of Medicine. Prof. Carvajal-Carmona has expertise on cancer genetics and genetic epidemiology and has successfully established large international collaborative networks, including CHIBCHA and COLUMBUS, two of the largest cancer genetics studies in Latino populations. He has been continuously funded as PI since 2005 (2005-2012 in the UK and 2013-present in the U.S.), has published over 65 papers, and his research achievements been recognized by awards from the European Association for Cancer Research, the Division of Medical Sciences from the University of Oxford and The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Prof. Carvajal-Carmona uses population- and genomic-based approaches to identify novel cancer genes and to understand the biological basis of cancer disparities in minority populations. Nationally, Prof Carvajal-Carmona currently serves as a member of the steering committee of the Molecular Epidemiology Group within the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and as an ad hoc reviewer for the NIH. He is a committed mentor and has made extensive efforts to train URM students from both UCD and from developing countries.



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Contact Details

UC Davis Biotechnology Program
Davis, CA 95616

Related Links

  • Biotechnology Program Website
  • DEB Website
  • NIH Director's Blog
  • Friday Seminars