College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences; Office of the Provost

Clemson names Hai Yao inaugural associate vice president for biomedical innovation


Clemson University has named Hai Yao as associate vice president for biomedical innovation. In this role, Yao is responsible for helping to guide Clemson and collaborators in defining areas of biomedical research that are innovative, novel, and have a high potential for impact to address societal needs. Additionally, he will build and lead teams of scientists, clinicians, and engineers to secure funding for and engage with innovative biomedical research projects. 

Yao serves as the Ernest R. Norville Endowed Chair and professor of bioengineering at Clemson, professor of oral health sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and the associate department chair for the Clemson-MUSC Bioengineering Program. As part of the Clemson-MUSC Bioengineering Program, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary this Fall, Clemson bioengineering faculty and students are based at MUSC’s Charleston campus, collaborating closely with MUSC researchers and clinicians.

Additionally, Yao leads an interdisciplinary research team as director of the S.C. Translational Research Improving Musculoskeletal Health (SC TRIMH), one of Clemson’s four Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence funded by the National Institutes of Health. A collaboration with Prisma Health and MUSC, SC TRIMH is identifying improved diagnostics and treatments for musculoskeletal and related diseases and advancing the development of virtual human trials that could quicken the translation of discovery from the lab to the bedside.  

According to Clemson University’s Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Robert H. Jones, Yao is an ideal fit for this position, and the Clemson-MUSC Bioengineering Program is an example of how strategic partnerships further position South Carolina as a hub of biomedical research innovation. 

I’m excited to see Hai in this very critical leadership position. His experience aligns to support the University’s goal of recruiting and mentoring AAU caliber faculty while collaborating with and leveraging the strengths of innovation campuses and partnerships. Hai and his team’s commitment to biomedical research ascension will translate to increasing innovative and meaningful deliverables – such as diagnostic tools, medical devices, therapeutic strategies and data-driven models – ultimately transforming lives within the state and beyond.” 

Clemson University Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Robert H. Jones

The desire for inter-institutional collaboration to enhance bioengineering research and education focuses on clinical needs and developing economic opportunities in the engineering and technologies associated with healthcare delivery.

Yao is a prolific scholar and a proven leader of multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary teams. This convergence of ideas and perspectives is essential to identifying solutions to societal needs. Yao has the experience working across disciplines and institutions to nurture high-impact biomedical innovation that will improve health care in South Carolina and beyond.”

Clemson university vice president for research tanju karanfil

I am honored to accept this appointment,” said Yao, a member of Clemson’s bioengineering department since 2006. “One of the big advantages of bringing together Clemson’s bioengineers and MUSC’s clinicians and scientists is that we can approach the same research challenges from different perspectives, allowing us to drive the development of ideas into high-quality applications that positively impact physicians, the patients they serve and their communities.”

In his time at Clemson, Yao has graduated more than 16 Ph.D. students in bioengineering, mentored 12 postdoctoral trainees, and mentored many master’s students and summer undergraduate and high school research interns. He has also served as a significant research adviser to 12 MUSC graduate researchers and 37 summer trainees. With his students as first authors, he has co-authored 115 conference proceedings and more than 92 peer-reviewed publications in top journals, resulting in 23 prestigious fellowships and 26 awards for the students involved. 

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