VA names UC Irvine orthopedic biomedical engineer a senior research career scientist

Grant will support study of knee and shoulder biomechanics that could benefit veterans

November 03, 2010

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has appointed Thay Q. Lee, PhD, senior research career scientist—the highest honor it bestows on scientists.

Lee, professor and vice chairman for research in UC Irvine’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, will receive $1.4 million to support his research and the Orthopaedic Biomechanics Lab at the Long Beach VA Medical Center.

“Dr. Lee is one of the world’s foremost orthopedic biomedical engineers,” said Dr. Ranjan Gupta, chair of the UC Irvine Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. “His research on the biomechanics of the knee and shoulder has resulted in improved quality of life for injured veterans and others.”

Lee is conducting a study to better understand the biomechanics of flexing and kneeling. “Both movements are limited after total knee arthroplasty, or knee replacement,” he said. “We will evaluate different surgical approaches to TKA with the goal of minimizing adverse effects on kneeling and improving quality of life for veterans and others who undergo knee replacement.”

The VA’s Research Career Development Program was created to support postdoctoral, nonclinical, independent investigators. Those who have held research career scientist appointments for at least five years are eligible for the senior-level awards, which recognize VA health services researchers who are international leaders in their field.

Each senior research career scientist is selected through peer review and is expected to have a successful history as a principal investigator on projects funded by the VA or other national agencies, a strong publications record, professional recognition and involvement, and an active role in teaching and mentoring other scientists.

For the past two decades, Lee’s research has focused on the biomechanics of the shoulder and knee. Having written more than 130 peer-reviewed manuscripts and 290 abstracts, Lee has made continuing contributions to the field. He has won numerous national and international awards, and the value of his work is underscored by 20 years of sustained VA and external funding, including 10 years as a research career scientist.

Lee joined UC Irvine in 1987 while employed at the Long Beach VA Medical Center. He became a full professor and was named vice chairman for research in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in 2004.

An elected fellow in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering, Lee is also a member of American Shoulder & Elbow Surgeons, the Orthopaedic Research Society, American Society of Biomechanics, California Orthopaedic Association, Society for Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering Society.

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