Dr. Stephen Liggett inducted into medical and biological engineering elite

The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering recognizes excellence in advancing innovation

WASHINGTON, DC — USF Health’s Stephen B. Liggett, MD, was among three USF faculty members elected as Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in recognition of their achievements in pioneering new health technologies and in advancing innovation in their fields.

Dr. Liggett, along with  Lawrence Hall, PhD, of the USF College of Engineering, and David Eddins, PhD, of the USF’s College of Behavioral & Community Sciences and College of Engineering, were recognized April 9 at a formal induction ceremony at the AIMBE Annual Meeting at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.  The AIMBE College of Fellows is comprised of the top two percent of medical and biological engineers. The three USF researchers were among 157 new inductees who made up the College of Fellows Class of 2018.

Stephen B. Liggett, MD

Dr. Liggett is a professor of internal medicine and molecular pharmacology & physiology for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, and serves as vice dean for research for the Morsani College of Medicine and vice president for research for USF Health.  He is also a founding member of the USF Health Heart Institute.  AIMBE cited his “distinguished contributions to advancing understanding of genetic variations in humans, pioneering discoveries in pharmacogenomics, and developing novel therapeutics.”

Dr. Liggett studies the genetics, molecular biology, structure and function of G-protein coupled receptors, or GPCRs.  GPCRs are complex “switches” that are the cell surface receptors for thousands of hormones, neurotransmitters, and other substances that control virtually every cell and organ. Using engineering concepts to quantify single-cell mechanics, Dr. Liggett’s research has provided key insights into GPCR activation, identifying many of the regulation steps that coordinate multiple “signals” that are sent and received by all cells in the body. His work is broadly applicable to diseases of the heart, lung, brain, kidney, liver, placenta, pancreas as well as vision, and smell, to name just a few systems that are controlled by GPCRs. His efforts have concentrated on heart disease (heart failure) and lung disease (asthma and emphysema), examining natural genetic variation of genes as modifiers of these diseases, and devising new therapies based on GPCR action. In particular, he was cited by the Institute for his work to ascertain single-cell effects of these receptors using “magnetic-twisting cytometry, Fourier-transformed traction microscopy, and spontaneous nanoscale tracer motions.”

Dr. Liggett holds 18 patents detailing potential new targets for drug therapy or genetic variations of known drug targets and how they might be used to predict response to medications and customize treatment for heart failure and asthma.  He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Inventors, and the American College of Chest Physicians. He earned his MD from the University of Miami School Of Medicine and his bachelor’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

With the three new honorees, USF is now home to a total of 13 AIMBE Fellows.