Mijo Simunovic, PhD
Prof. Mijo Simunovic is an award-winning Croatian-American biophysicist and stem cell biologist. After receiving a PhD from the University of Chicago and a second PhD from the Curie Institute in Paris, Prof. Simunovic worked at the Rockefeller as a Junior Fellow of the Simons Society of Fellows where they developed stem cell approaches to studying human embryogenesis. As assistant professor at Columbia University, Prof. Simunovic leads a highly interdisciplinary lab that investigates early mammalian embryo development, exploring the chemical signaling rules underlying cell specialization and the mechanistic basis of organ tissue patterning. Embryo implantation into the uterus is of particular interest to the lab, a phenomenon with intriguing and human-specific traits, and a developmental milestone causing the failure of the vast majority of pregnancies. By diffusing the traditional barriers between engineering, biology, and physics, Prof. Simunovic seeks new paradigms in modeling human embryogenesis using stem cells, with the hope of applying the learned knowledge about our own development to advancing the reproductive health of women and all people with uteruses. Throughout their career, Prof. Simunovic was recognized with numerous research and teaching awards, including the 2017 AAAS/Science and SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists in Cell and Molecular Biology and the 2021 NIH Director's New Innovator Award.