Faces of Research - Meet Andrés García
Meet Andrés García, executive director of the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience (IBB).
IBB is one of Georgia Tech's 11 interdisciplinary research institutes within the Georgia Tech Research enterprise.
What is your field of expertise and why did you choose it?
My field of expertise is biomaterials, regenerative medicine, and mechanobiology. When I was 11 years old, my plan was to be a professional basketball player. However, I developed a condition in my right leg where the growth plate in the hip bone slips resulting in biomechanical misalignment, pain, and limping. I had three stainless steel pins implanted in my hip to fuse my growth plate and spent ten weeks on crutches. The following year, the same thing happened in my left leg and I underwent the same surgery. Although these procedures were successful, the surgeon used the wrong type of pin. My bone grew around the pin threads and could not be removed, and now are permanently in me. Stainless steel slowly corrodes in the body and will cause damage long term. The positive outcome is that the biomechanical issues were fixed, and I have led a normal life, playing basketball, backpacking with my sons, and running (I do a 5K run three times a week). The negative is that I have stainless steel implants corroding in my body. This experience got me extremely interested in biomaterials and medicine. I did not want to practice medicine, I wanted to be part of making the devices and therapies to treat diseases and conditions like mine.
What makes the way in which IBB enables campus research unique?
IBB is awesome! We bring together a dynamic and diverse community of researchers that are making discoveries and engineered technologies that will revolutionize the world. Our state-of-the-art core facilities provide our researchers with resources to do unique and special projects. I am also immensely proud of the supportive community, entrepreneurial and innovation spirit, and can-do attitude.
What couldn’t have happened without IBB?
People make IBB special. Together with the exceptional faculty, trainees, staff and the tremendous support and resources from the administration, colleges, and units allow IBB to make huge contributions. I think that IBB has been instrumental in our two NSF-funded Engineering Research Centers (GTEC, CMaT), many NIH research and training grants, high impact publications, and IP and spin outs.
What impact is IBB research having on the world?
Our research provides fundamental insights into the biological world and invents and engineers new technologies that will revolutionize healthcare and the environment to have positive socioeconomic impact. Furthermore, our faculty, graduates, and trainees are leaders and role models actively engaged in improving the human condition.