Katherine Ferrara Elected to the National Academy of Engineering
Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Professor Katherine Ferrara, whose research has pioneered using ultrasound to image cancer and heart disease and who played a leadership role in establishing the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of California, Davis, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the highest professional recognition for an engineer.

Professor Ferrara was elected for her contributions to the theory and applications of biomedical ultrasound.  She is one of 67 new members elected to the National Academy this year in recognition of their national and international leadership in engineering research and discovery. 

Ferrara’s current work explores new ways to use ultrasound in medical treatment. For example, anticancer drugs can be encased in tiny capsules that are injected into a patient’s bloodstream and steered toward the tumor with ultrasound. When the capsules reach the tumor, focused ultrasound bursts the capsules, releasing the drugs where they are most needed and reducing side-effects on other tissues and organs.

Ferrara received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Sacramento State, and was a project engineer for General Electric Medical Systems, working on the development of magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound systems, before completing her doctoral degree in electrical engineeringat UC Davis.

Ferrara was a faculty member at Sacramento State, Cornell University and the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, before returning to UC Davis in 1999 to lead the new division of biomedical engineering. In 2001, the division became a full department, with Ferrara as founding chair. She was principal investigator on a $12 million award from the Whitaker Foundation, which made possible the early expansion of the department.

Ferrara is also the director of the Center for Content Rich Evaluation of Therapeutic Efficacy (cCRETE, pronounced “secrete”), funded through the Research Initiatives in Science and Engineering program established by the UC Davis Office of Research. The center brings together a team of cancer biologists, social scientists, bioinformatics experts and bioengineers to develop and test new types of assays that could be used to speed up the development of new therapeutic drugs.

Among other honors, Ferrara received the Achievement Award from the IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control Society in 2012, the top honor of this society. She is a fellow of the IEEE, American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Acoustical Society of America, and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.

Read the UC Davis News announcement.