The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering has named Bruce Tromberg, as its new director.
Tromberg, an expert in biophotonics and biomedical optics, will join the NIH unit from the University of California, Irvine, where he holds appointments at the biomedical engineering and surgery departments.
At NIBIB, Tromberg will deploy a $378 million budget and 230 staff members to further research into biomedical imaging and bioengineering technologies and techniques.
The NIBIB has funded significant biomedical research since it started backing projects run by internal and external teams in 2002. Researchers at University of California, Los Angeles, used NIBIB money to develop an electrical stimulation therapy that enabled a person with a paralyzing spinal cord injury to stand. Within the NIBIB, researchers have worked to advance imaging technology, leading to the development of novel microscopes.
Roderic Pettigrew, the founding director of NIBIB, oversaw all of this work. In doing so, Pettigrew helped to dispel skepticism about the need for the institute and establish it as an important part of the research funding landscape.
Pettigrew stepped down late last year after 15 years as director to take up a role at Texas A&M University. Jill Heemskerk moved up to the director post on an interim basis while the NIBIB looked for a permanent replacement for Pettigrew. Ten months after Pettigrew left, the NIBIB has found its new director. NIH Director Francis Collins thinks Tromberg's research focus and prior involvement with the NIBIB makes him a good fit for the job.
"Bruce brings substantial experience in biophotonics, and demonstrated his commitment to state-of-the-art imaging and bioengineering technologies through his research and leadership on numerous advisory committees, including the NIBIB National Advisory Council," Collins said in a statement.
Tromberg will join the NIBIB in the new year and start overseeing its budget, the majority of which is awarded to universities in the U.S. and overseas through 800 active grants. In his academic career, Tromberg was a beneficiary of funding from the NIH and later the NIBIB. This funding enabled Tromberg to research the use of lasers and optics in medicine.
The NIBIB's ability to continue funding such research was threatened last year by planned cuts to its budget. President Trump's budget for fiscal 2018 proposed slashing NIBIB funding by almost 20%. Ultimately, the NIBIB secured a small increase to its budget.