Christopher H. Sotak Named WPI Biomedical Engineering Head

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - Christopher H. Sotak of Jefferson, Mass. has been chosen to head Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Department of Biomedical Engineering, effective July 1. Provost John F. Carney III, who announced the appointment, said Sotak received strong support from students, professional associates and the search committee, which endorsed his candidacy unanimously.

A tenured professor since 1998, he has taught at WPI since 1988. He also is an adjunct professor in the Department of Radiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) and the director of the NMR Laboratory, a combined research program of the departments of biomedical engineering at WPI and radiology at UMMS.

He received 1975 B.A. and 1980 M.A. degrees in chemistry from the University of Northern Colorado, a 1983 Ph.D. in chemistry from Syracuse University and a 1995 M.B.A. in management from WPI. A three-year awardee of The Whitaker Foundation, he has received the Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association for five years and WPI's 1996 Board of Trustees' Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Scholarship.

In addition to developing several courses at WPI, he has taught more than 13 courses and has advised undergraduates on a multitude of projects. He has conducted independent studies and has served as an academic advisor for numerous master's and Ph.D. candidates as well as for post-doctoral researchers. He has served as a consultant for a dozen or more companies such as Procter and Gamble Co., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and E.I. duPont de Nemours and Co. Inc.

His research focuses on the development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods for the evaluation of therapeutic interventions in acute stroke.

"The development of new MRI technologies to detect acute stroke, as well as evaluate therapeutic interventions during the acute phase, will play an important role in mitigating this devastating cerebrovascular disease," Sotak said. "Fortunately, recent developments in MRI technology make it possible to visualize the brain tissue affected during acute ischemic stroke as well as assess the degree of ischemic brain damage. This new MRI technology also provides powerful tools for evaluating the effectiveness of different therapies during early stages of the disease, when the chances for a good clinical outcome are the most promising."

A second major area of his research involves the development of fluorine-19 MRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy methods for measuring tumor oxygenation and evaluating tumor therapy.

He has received fellowships and grants from numerous sources, including the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association and the National Science Foundation. He has been a member of the American Chemical Society, the Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, the IEEE-Society of Engineering in Medicine and Biology, the Society for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and American Heart Association's Stroke Council.

Current biomedical engineering department head Professor Robert A. Peura, lauded for his years of contributions, will return to full-time teaching and research following a sabbatical leave.

WPI, founded in 1865, is renowned for its project-based curriculum. Under the WPI Plan, students integrate classroom studies with research projects conducted on campus and around the world.