By VCU Life Sciences
Robert M. Tombes, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Life Sciences and Research at Virginia Commonwealth University, has appointed Stephen S. Fong, Ph.D., as the new director of the Center for Integrative Life Sciences Education and the Integrative Life Sciences Doctoral Program.
Fong has served as the vice chair in the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering at VCU College of Engineering and will continue as faculty and also as co-lead for the iCubed Sustainable Food Access Transdisciplinary Core.
He received his Ph.D. in bioengineering and master of science in bioengineering from the University of California San Diego, in 2004 and 2001, respectively, and his bachelor of science in chemical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1998.
Fong has expertise in systems biology and metabolic engineering with a background in strain development for chemical production and computational modeling. As a graduate student, he completed the first-ever study that used large-scale metabolic modeling to design and implement novel chemical production into organisms, demonstrated through the production of lactic acid in the bacterium, Escherichia coli.
“Life Sciences at VCU has a great history of being driven by outstanding students across diverse disciplines,” Fong said. “We will continue to grow the Integrative Life Sciences Doctoral Program and the Center for Integrative Life Sciences Education by highlighting our students’ accomplishments and expanding the diversity of opportunities for our students to develop and apply their knowledge and skills to impact our world.”
Tombes said, “Dr. Fong has a distinguished record of integrative research and education, especially working with VCU Life Sciences. He has mentored many students, including ILS graduates, and is extremely comfortable working across disciplines. I am very pleased that I was able to recruit Steve into this position and thrilled that he is now creatively directing these programs.”
Examples of the diversity of his recent projects include a grant to study low-cost pharmaceutical manufacturing acceleration, studying the impact of the human microbiome on pregnancy, computational modeling of microorganisms for lipid production to produce biofuel and local sustainability projects (urban heat island, green infrastructure, air quality monitoring).
Fong has published 77 peer-reviewed articles, 15 book chapters and a book titled “Developing Biofuel Processes Using Systems and Synthetic Biology” for Springer Press.