Daniel Gallego-Perez receives 2024 Early Career Distinguished Scholar Award

Daniel Gallego-Perez, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering and professor in the department of surgery in the College of Medicine, has earned The Ohio State University 2024 Early Career Distinguished Scholar Award. Senior leadership in the Enterprise for Research, Innovation and Knowledge recently surprised Gallego-Perez with the honor at a department meeting.      

“I have no words, I am just very thankful for all the support from the department, the college and the university,” said Gallego-Perez after learning of his recognition. “I wouldn't be here if I didn't have a strong team of investigators - some of you are sitting here. I wouldn't be able to do what I do if I didn't have the right team and the best colleagues, and I am extremely grateful for that.”

Gallego-Perez’s research focuses on the development of novel biomedical micro- and nanoscale technologies for fundamental and translational applications. Major areas of emphasis in his lab include regenerative medicine, cell and tissue reprogramming, drug and gene delivery and cancer research. 

“Daniel's ground-breaking discoveries in developing novel nanotechnology for biomedical applications will impact treatments for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, brain injuries, heart disease and more,” said Peter Mohler, executive vice president for research, innovation and knowledge. "While his research has resulted in thousands of citations and millions in funding, it’s the impact on lives that is truly remarkable."  

“In addition to your research, you also really, really care about your students, your co-faculty, the staff and you show it,” said Ayanna Howard, dean of the College of Engineering. “So it’s not just about being an amazing researcher and scientist, but it’s also about showing others what it means to be human.”  

Biomedical engineering department chair Samir Ghadiali also shared his congratulations. “Daniel really is the quintessential biomedical engineer. He takes basic discoveries and translates them into what I call Star Trek technology. And does things that just blow your mind away. At the same time, he mentors his students. He treats everybody fairly with respect and really fosters a family culture.” 

Gallego-Perez is an associate professor in the departments of Biomedical Engineering and General Surgery, the Edgar C. Hendrickson Chair in Biomedical Engineering and serves as the director of the Center for Advanced Nanotherapeutics in the Gene Therapy Institute. In addition to high-impact publications, his line of research has yielded multiple intellectual property filings and awarded patents, several of which have already been licensed to industry. Gallego-Perez is the lead inventor of the Tissue Nano-Transfection (TNT) technology, for which he was awarded the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award to work on developing TNT-driven therapies for ischemic stroke and peripheral nerve injury. Gallego-Perez was also awarded pilot funding through NIDDK’s Catalyst Award program to work on developing TNT-driven therapies for diabetes and metabolic disorders. He was recently elected as a 2024 Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and was awarded the Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award from OSU (2024), and the Harrison Faculty Award for Excellence in Engineering Education (2023). Additional accolades include the Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering Young Innovator Award, the Distinguished Alumni Award from both his undergraduate alma mater and OSU’s College of Engineering, the Institute for Materials Research Innovation Award, the Lumley Interdisciplinary Research Award, and the Lumley Research Award. Gallego-Perez received his bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering from a joint program between EIA University and CES University (Colombia) and his doctorate in Biomedical Engineering from Ohio State. He joined the Ohio State faculty in 2015. 

The Early Career Distinguished Scholar Award is among the highest annual honors awarded at Ohio State. The university-level award honors three to four faculty members who demonstrate scholarly activity, conduct research or creative works that represent exceptional achievements in their fields and garner distinction for the university. 

Award recipients are nominated by their departments and chosen by a committee of senior faculty, including past award recipients. Early Career Distinguished Scholars receive an honorarium and a research grant to be used over the next three years. 

Quotes from Gallego-Perez’s nomination:   

“I consider his single-cell intracellular analysis to be world class. It is extremely innovative, which is also reflected by the fact that he is the lead inventor of 6 of his 12 patents. It is quite remarkable that he has been so productive with only 7 PhD students and 3 postdocs.” Hsueh-Chia Chang, University of Notre Dame.   

“In my opinion, Dr. Gallego-Perez has made significant and creative scholarly contributions to his research field. He is considered an international leader in our community and has made novel intellectual and technical contributions to nanotechnologies that can be easily interfaced with living systems to (1) gain insights into pathophysiological processes, or (2) deliver preventive or corrective therapies to injured or diseased cells and tissues.” Andrés J. García, Georgia Institute of Technology.   

“In his early career, Dr. Gallego-Perez has won some notable research awards including a major grant from NIH, 2018 NIH New Innovator Award along with some other research awards. During the last 5 years, Dr. Gallego-Perez published 64 research papers and 6 book chapters. Overall, Dr. Gallego-Perez has won competitive research awards and has an excellent publication record as an independent investigator.” Jian Yang, Penn State University.