Henry J. Donahue, PhD was the 2017 recipient of the 2017 ORS Outstanding Achievement in Mentoring Award.

Dr. Donahue is the School of Engineering Foundation Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University. He received his PhD in Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Mayo Clinic. He has over 25 years of experience studying musculoskeletal biology, using both in vitro and in vivo models. His research has been continually funded by the National Institutes of Health for over 25 years and he has also had funding from the Department of Defense, NASA/National Space Biology Research Institute, private foundations and industry. Dr. Donahue is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Specific Area of Interest
Dr. Donahue’ research focuses on understanding the mechanism by which bone and muscle adapt to their mechanical environment; examining the effects of space flight on musculoskeletal tissues and exploiting biophysical signals, including shear stress and nanotopography, to develop innovative strategies to regenerate musculoskeletal tissue lost to disease, injury or ageing.

What has been the biggest challenge/issue for you lately in your research?
The biggest challenge by far is securing sufficient extramural grant support for our research efforts. This is even harder given the current political environment.

What advice would you give investigators who are just starting out in the field?
Find an interesting problem, work hard to solve it, be honest, develop a sense of human, be nice to others and contribute to science and engineering by developing future scientists and engineers.

Is there anything in your career/research that, if you had it to do over, you would change?
I spent most of my career working in environments where there were not undergraduate students. If I could do it over again, I would have been more involved with undergraduate students right from the start. I find working with undergraduate students very rewarding.

What has receiving this award meant to you?
It is very rewarding to be recognized for mentoring. Being a mentor is a great way to contribute to science and engineering on a larger scale than possible as an individual. I have been very fortunate to be a mentor for outstanding faculty, post docs, graduate students, medical students and undergraduate students.

September 2017