Federation of Cypriot American Organizations

FCAO to honor Kyriacos A. Athanasiou Ph.D. at 2022 annual Testimonial Dinner

August 25, 2022

Kyriacos A. Athanasiou, Ph.D., will be bestowed with the FCAO Lifetime Achievement Award to recognize his extraordinary lifetime achievements.

Kyriacos A. Athanasiou has enormously impacted health science and technology, addressing significant societal needs through the development of life-saving technologies. He is a Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Irvine. In addition to being a faculty member in Biomedical Engineering, he is also the holder of the Henry Samueli Chair and the Director of DELTAi (Driving Engineering and Lifescience Translational Advances at Irvine). He has served as a faculty member at the University of Texas, Rice University, and the University of California (first at Davis and now at Irvine).

He obtained his Ph.D. in Bioengineering (Mechanical Engineering) from Columbia University in 1989. He has published over 800 peer-reviewed publications, including 380 papers, 360 conference proceedings or abstracts, 20 books, and multiple patents. He has also served as President of the Biomedical Engineering Society (the largest organization of biomedical engineers and bioengineers in the world) and as the Editor-in-Chief of the Annals of Biomedical Engineering, the flagship journal of BMES. His list of awards includes the Nemitsas Prize (Cyprus' most significant award in the arts and sciences, presented by the President of Cyprus), the HR Lissner Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (the top award for bioengineers), Savio L-Y. Woo Medal for Translational Biomechanics from ASME, Distinguished Service Award from BMES, Wall Street Journal's Innovation Award, Thomas A. Edison Patent Award from ASME, Hershel Rich Outstanding Invention Award, Marshal Urist Award for Excellence in Tissue Regeneration Research from the Orthopeadic Research Society, Van Mow Medal from ASME, Imagineer Award from the Mind Science Foundation, and Young Scientist Award from the American Society of Biomechanics. Other awards include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Beall Family Foundation, UCI Applied Innovation (the award also included a "Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition" by the U.S. Congress and citations by the California Legislature Assembly and the California Senate); Faculty Excellence in Research (Senior Award) from the Samueli School of Engineering; High Tech Innovation Award from OCTANe; and Innovator of the Year Award from the UCI Samueli School of Engineering. He is a Fellow of BMES, AAAS, AIMBE, and ASME. 

The Kyriacos and Kiley Athanasiou Endowment was established in 2017 within the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) to promote biomedical engineering scholarship and honor the contributions of Dr. Kyriacos Athanasiou to the field. Every year since 2018, the "Athanasiou Awards" are given at the annual BMES meeting to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows for the best-published papers. In 2023, the "Athanasiou Medal" will be given annually to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the field of biomedical engineering with a particular focus on translation. 

Professor Athanasiou has established one of the world's most recognized research groups in tissue engineering and regeneration. As part of his research, he demonstrated the fabrication of cartilage with properties on par with native tissue (published in the journal Nature Materials), identified hypoxia and crosslinking agents as pivotal factors in the development of musculoskeletal tissues (published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science), and provided the first robust evidence of healing jaw joint or TMJ defects (published in Science Translational Medicine) using his scaffold-free self-assembling process (published in Science).

Dr. Athanasiou was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2020 and the National Academy of Inventors in 2014. His election to the National Academy of Medicine was "For inventing, developing, and translating technologies, such as articular cartilage implants and methods for intraosseous infusion, that impact several biomedical fields, including orthopedics, maxillofacial surgery, tissue engineering, diabetes, and emergency care."

In addition to his academic interests, he has been involved with effecting the translation of devices and instruments into clinical use and commercialization. He has founded six different start-up companies that have collectively brought to the market 15 FDA-approved products. His scaffolds provided the first cartilage implant to treat joint defects; they were also used as bone and dental fillers. He won the Edison Patent Award "for addressing the significant health problem of articular cartilage repair through the invention of a technology, the only implant used worldwide..." He won the Woo Medal for "inventing intraosseous infusion to deliver life-saving drugs… and translating… to clinical use worldwide." This infusion product is used worldwide and can be found in every ambulance and emergency room. His invention won the top award in the Wall Street Journal's innovation competition (overall winner out of over 700 entries in all fields). More recently, he founded a new company, Cartilage Inc., whose objective is to bring to the market cartilage that is engineered in the lab and that is live and identical to normal cartilage. Cartilage, Inc.'s first product is for treating jaw disorders. These technologies can also treat knee cartilage, the meniscus, and nose cartilage.

Kyriacos was born in Larnaca, Cyprus, in the year of Cyprus' Independence and raised by his late, beloved parents, Aristos and Anastasia Athanasiou, from Oroklini and Athienou, respectively. He moved to the U.S. in 1980. For the last 30 years, he has been married to Kiley Athanasiou. They have two sons, Aristos Athanasiou Athens (software engineer at Tesla) and Thasos Athanasiou Athens (corporate lawyer at O'Melveny and Meyers), and a daughter-in-law Jacqueline (Pohida) Athens (nurse practitioner, married to Thasos). They all live in California and attend St. Paul Greek Orthodox Church.

About the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations

The Federation of Cypriot American Organizations (FCAO) is a non-profit umbrella organization representing 28 Greek Cypriot American organizations located throughout the United States. Its mission is to develop good relations and solidarity amongst its chapters, promote their common goals, represent their common interests, and coordinate their common social, educational, philanthropic, and cultural activities. The FCAO undertakes and promotes charitable activities primarily within the Cypriot-American and Greek-American communities; preserves and promotes the Greek language and Greek Cypriot history in the United States; supports the leadership of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States in the establishment and preservation of Greek American identity and the Greek Orthodox faith in the United States; and preserves and promotes the Greek Cypriot cultural heritage in the United States.

The Annual Testimonial Dinner of the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations is held every September in New York. Past award recipients include His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, then-United States Senator Joseph Biden, the former Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Costas Karamanlis, Dr. Chrysostomos Nikias, President of the University of Southern California, Nikos Kotzias, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic, Dr. Harris Pastides, President of the University of South Carolina, Dr. Symeon C. Symeonides Dean Emeritus & Alex l. Parks Distinguished Chair in Law Willamette University, Stelios Papadopoulos, Ph.D. Chairman, Board of Directors of Biogen, Inc.; Exelixis, Inc.; Regulus Therapeutics, Inc.; Eucrates Biomedical Acquisition Corp.; numerous United States Senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives and prominent American business people and philanthropists.

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