Director’s Message

Welcome to the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials (NJCBM)

I started the “Biomaterials Initiative” back in 1992. After several years, we received a $3.5M research excellence award from the State of New Jersey, resulting in the formal establishment of the NJCBM in 1997.  Since then, we have grown into an internationally recognized, interdisciplinary research program. After serving as the Founding Director of the NJCBM for over 22 years, I have now decided to resign from my administrative position. This frees up time for me to focus on the next challenges and opportunities in biomaterials in my role as Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry at Rutgers University and in my new role as President-Elect of the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering (IUSBSE).  

As biomaterials scientists, our goal has always been to improve health care and the quality of life by developing advanced biomedical products for tissue repair and replacement, and the delivery of pharmaceutical agents. I am excited that so many of our technologies have been translated into clinical and pre-clinical products, including surgical meshes, cardiovascular stents, bone regeneration scaffolds, ocular drug delivery systems, and nerve conduits for the repair of peripheral nerve injuries and the prevention of neuroma. By now, more than 300,000 patients in 46 countries use medical implants that were enabled by our polymer technologies.  I am very proud of this lasting legacy and the impact our research had on the lives of so many patients all over the world. 

Over the years, we have become experts in driving biomedical innovation to its ultimate role in health care.  We learned to do this through collaborations, the merging of disciplinary points of view, partnerships between public and private entities, and increasingly, interactions that bridge regional and national borders. 

Two federally funded research programs define our major contributions:  I served as Principal Investigator of the Resource for Polymeric Biomaterials (RESBIO), a program that was funded by the National Institutes of Health for its maximum possible duration of 15 years. RESBIO integrated the work of chemists, materials scientists, biologists and biomedical engineers toward development of bioactive scaffolds for tissue engineering and drug delivery. I also served from 2008 to 2018 as the Director of the Rutgers-Cleveland Clinic Consortium of the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM).  This $60 M program coordinated the work of more than 100 scientists from 14 of the Nation’s leading academic and clinical institutions and resulted in several clinical trials, exploring new therapies for burn victims, nerve repair, scaring, and bone regeneration.  One of our most impactful achievements were three face transplant procedures performed by Dr. Maria Siemionow at Cleveland Clinic.  

I will continue to be part of the NJCBM and welcome our new Interim Director, Dean and Professor Thu Nguyen.  I wish him and the other members of NJCMB’s administrative staff lots of success in guiding the amazing work of the NJCBM in the years to come.

Joachim Kohn, PhD, FBSE
Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry
Chair, International College of Fellows of Biomaterials Science and Engineering
President-Elect of the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering (IUSBSE)