Dean Mark Cohen

Carle Illinois College of Medicine
Dean Mark S. Cohen

Dr. Mark Cohen is the Dean of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine and Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer for Carle Health. He is a practicing surgical oncologist and endocrine surgeon and a tenured professor of Surgery and Biomedical and Translational Sciences in the Carle Illinois College of Medicine.  He is also a Founder Professor in The Grainger College of Engineering in the Department of Bioengineering, as well as a professor in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. 

His research covers several areas including novel approaches to tissue engineering to create functional organs from fat stem cells; creation of a novel class of anticancer drug compounds that target chaperone proteins; nanoparticle drug-delivery systems for cancer and bone regeneration; and use of mixed reality and AI/ML technologies to improve telemedicine, clinical care delivery as well as health care workforce training and education.

His work has been continuously funded by the NCI (NIH) for 17 years, and he has also received funding from the National Science Foundation, the Komen Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the Department of Defense, and even NASA. He has published 135 peer-reviewed manuscripts and has held multiple leadership roles in national medical and surgical societies, including several national leadership positions in surgical societies, and is a founding member and program co-lead of the Holomedicine Association and currently Chairs the American College of Surgeons’ Committee on Emerging Surgical Technology and Education. 

Mark Cohen

He is a member of the Council of Deans of the Association of American Medical Colleges, a senior member of the Association for Academic Surgery, a member of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, the International Association of Endocrine Surgeons, the Asian Association of Endocrine Surgeons, the American Medical Association, the American College of Surgeons, the Society of Surgical Oncology, the International Society of Surgery, the Society of University Surgeons, the American Surgical Association, the Southwest Surgical Association, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

For his work in mixed reality applications in medical education, he was awarded the 2019 Distinguished Faculty Award for Innovation and the 2021 Provost Award for Innovation in Education at the University of Michigan. He is also a serial entrepreneur, founding 5 companies in the digital health, medical device, and medical therapeutics sectors, and has mentored over 350 students and faculty on innovation projects and startups. He also managed a small internal venture fund focused on surgical innovation and is the author of a textbook on Surgical Innovation in Academic Medicine published through Springer-Nature.


In addition to six patents and over 100 invited/distinguished speaker presentations nationally and internationally including the Keynote Speaker at the 2020 Society of Thoracic Surgeons meeting, Dr. Cohen has received numerous awards and honors, including:

  • Biomedical Innovation Prize in 2015 by the University of Michigan Fast Forward Medical Innovation group at the Michigan Capital Growth Symposium
  • Keith Amos Award by Washington University Department of Surgery in 2015
  • Desphande Award for Outstanding Contributions to Advancing Innovation and Entrepreneurship in 2017
  • Token of Appreciation from Medical Students (TAMS) Award in 2018 from the University of Michigan Medical School
  • Distinguished Faculty Recognition Award in Innovation by the University of Michigan in 2019
  • Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize in 2021 for Applications of Mixed Reality to enhance Medical Education

Translational Research

Dean Cohen's translational research program is focused in three key areas:


Engineering novel cancer therapeutics targeting heat shock protein 90, its isoforms, and its heterochaperone complex as a safer and more efficacious anticancer approach.


Utilizing nanoparticle drug-delivery systems to improve cancer drug delivery, bone fracture healing, and tissue repair.


Tissue engineering to develop functional endocrine organs (thyroid, parathyroid, pancreatic islet cells) from adipose tissue to cure chronic diseases such as hypothyroidism, hypoparathyroidism, and diabetes.