Carle Illinois welcomes eight new Health Innovation Professors

August 26, 2021

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Eight faculty from a range of disciplines across the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus have joined Carle Illinois College of Medicine with Health Innovation Professor appointments.  The new professors deliver on Carle Illinois’ commitment to advance the discovery and translation of breakthrough health innovations and take a holistic approach to improving the medical field and human condition.

The new faculty join from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Gies College of Business.

“As champions of interdisciplinary research, the faculty will pioneer new approaches to the medical education of Carle Illinois’ physician innovators,” said King Li, Dean of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. “They will also serve as agents of change innovation and research in the world’s first engineering-based college of medicine.”

The new Health Innovation faculty represent a range of disciplines and are positioned to be drivers of innovation in medicine and healthcare, which will fuel health-related funding from government agencies, industry, foundations, and individuals, and inspire a range of new cause-based philanthropic giving campaigns.

“Our Carle Illinois Health Innovation Professors recognize the value of translating new ideas to innovations and to impact, and how their expertise and visionary thinking can inspire our students to bring about change in healthcare,” said Stephen Boppart, Carle Illinois’ Executive Associate Dean and Chief Diversity Officer. “We welcome this new cohort of faculty from multiple other colleges across our campus, building on the intersections that Carle Illinois intends to make with other disciplines.”

Carle Illinois new Health Innovation Professors include:

Professor Pepino
M. Yanina Pepino

Yanina Pepino, Associate Professor of Nutrition, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

Dr. Pepino advances the understanding of the effects of taste perception on ingestive behavior and nutrient metabolism. She investigates bariatric surgery-induced weight loss on taste perception, eating and drinking, and the effects of consuming nonnutritive sweeteners on taste preference and blood sugar balance.

Zeynep Madak-Erdogan, Associate Professor of Nutrition, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental

Prof. Zeynep Madak-Erdogan
Zeynep Madak-Erdogan


Dr. Madak-Erdogan improves the quality of life for postmenopausal women and breast cancer survivors by understanding how diet and nutrition affect hormone action. Her lab uses multiscale modeling of –omics data from patient samples, animal models, and cell lines to understand the molecular basis of metabolic regulation by nuclear receptors and therapy resistance.


Prof. Brian Aldridge
Brian Aldridge

Brian Aldridge, Clinical Professor in Rural Animal Health Management, College of Veterinary Medicine

Professor Aldridge’s principal clinical interests are in farm animal medicine and the interface between health and production in growing animals. His primary research interests are in adaptive and transitional health in young animals. He also has a strong enthusiasm for teaching and learning, particularly as it relates to the advancement of animal and human health and welfare globally.

Rebecca Smith
Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith, Associate Professor, Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine

Rebecca Smith is a professor in the Department of Veterinary Medicine. Smith is an epidemiologist with an interest in infectious disease control, complex data, and One Health. Smith has extensive training in statistics, with a specialization in longitudinal data analysis and a strong background in risk analysis and disease modeling.


Mehmet Ahsen
Mehmet Ahsen
Mehmet Eren Ahsen, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Gies College of Business

Eren’s passion is to design and use AI tools to guide the decision-making process for data driven insights in business and healthcare. A significant motivation to his research is the possibility of transforming healthcare into a reliable and evidence-based undertaking through data analytics. Eren’s background in mathematics adds some theoretical flavor to his research. Eren is an advocate of open science and scientific collaboration and is a co-organizer for several crowdsourcing data competitions which aim to improve discovery and innovation in healthcare.

Ujjal Mukherjee
Ujjal Mukherjee

Ujjal Kumar Mukherjee, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Gies College of Business

Mukherjee’s teaching interests include supply chain management, business analytics, healthcare operations, and healthcare analytics. His research interests are focused on using empirical methods to understand product recalls in medical device, pharmaceutical, and other industries. Additionally, his research focuses on healthcare analytics, particularly in the use of machine learning and statistical methods in healthcare problems, including precision medicine application in the area of cancer treatment. Apart from clinical research, he works in the area of healthcare processes and technology management. He has conducted in-depth field studies at large a large multi-specialty hospital in the Mid-western United States to study operational issues related to the effective use of surgical robots for delivering critical surgical care to OB/GYN and Urological patients. Using data analysis, he has helped the partner hospital in selecting the right surgical procedures and patients to optimize cost and quality of surgical care delivery. Recently he has been actively associated with COVID-19 research and mitigation activities.

Sridhar Seshadri
Sridhar Seshadri

Sridhar Seshadri, Alan J. and Joyce D. Baltz Endowed Professor and Area Chair, Information Systems/Operations Management/Supply Chain/Analytics, Gies College of Business

Sridhar Seshadri spends his research energies on stochastic modeling and applications in the use of analytics for informing policy, manufacturing, supply chain management, and revenue management. His current work in the area of healthcare has two broad themes: The design of resilient supply chains for healthcare operations and research into how technology, smart policies, and delivery mechanisms can improve preventative care and lead to better health outcomes. Some of the questions studied are: How to design and operate healthcare supply chains to match demand and supply? How to obtain information in advance and plan so that healthcare supply systems become resilient to shocks? How to create products, provide incentives, and price healthcare services to improve the availability and delivery of care? Information collection and analytics play an increasingly important role in each of these areas, especially in the delivery of care in rural areas and to vulnerable communities; and therefore, are very much part of this research.

Bruce Fouke
Bruce Fouke

Bruce Fouke, Professor, Department of Geology, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Bruce Fouke is a Professor in Geology, Microbiology, and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.  Fouke’s research group focuses on the cross-disciplinary intersection of geology and molecular biology (Geobiology), with a recent emphasis on universal biomineralization and processes that occur in the human body.


Carle Illinois welcomed eight additional Health Innovation professors from The Grainger College of Engineering in February 2021.

They include:

Joe Bradley, Clinical Assistant Professor, Bioengineering
Wawrzyniec Dobrucki, Associate Professor, Bioengineering
Kiruba Haran, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Iwona Jasiuk, Professor, Mechanical Science and Engineering
Mariana Kersh, Associate Professor, Mechanical Science and Engineering
Michael Oelze, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Harlee Sorkin Clinical Assistant Professor, Technology Entrepreneur Center
Jimeng Sun, Professor, Computer Science

“These incredibly talented Health Innovation Professors are thought leaders and visionaries, and are a shining example of the University’s and Carle Illinois’ commitment to leverage the tremendous power of diversity and interdisciplinarity to promote innovation and excellence,” said Boppart.

Carle Illinois’ next round of applications for Health Innovation Professor appointments will open in late Fall 2021.  The next application cycle is expected to be open for nominations from all colleges across campus. More information is available by contacting Stephen Boppart at


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This story was published August 26, 2021.