Joe Bender, PhD

Current job title:  Computational Lab Director
Institution:  United Therapeutics
Degree, year of completion:  PhD in BME, 2014


Why did you choose to attend Johns Hopkins?

I chose to attend Johns Hopkins because of the great reputation of its BME program and because of the wide variety of labs focused on computational biology.


Can you share any special memories from your time at JHU (in the classroom, lab, etc.)?

During my first year at JHU, my rotation in the lab of my future advisor, Feilim Mac Gabhann, was a memorable experience for me. It was my first significant exposure to computational modeling and I knew immediately it would be a great fit for me.


How did you get interested in your current professional field? What interests or circumstance drew you to it?

My undergrad degree was in chemical engineering, and I particularly enjoyed my course in chemical reaction kinetics. As I looked at areas of research where kinetics and similar methods could be applied, I was particularly interested in developing treatments for disease. This led to me pursuing computational biology in grad school.


Please describe some of your career highlights.

Before starting in my current position, I worked for 2.5 years at a startup focused on precision oncology. While I was there, the company obtained series A financing, which was its first major round of investment. I had the opportunity to present details of the scientific work the company was doing to investors. This was a great learning experience to understand how startup investing works.


What are your most notable/interesting professional (and/or personal) accomplishments?

I recently joined United Therapeutics as director of a new computational biology lab. I am very excited about this new opportunity because it offers the chance to apply a broad range of modeling methodologies at a company that is doing a lot of exciting work in drug development and organ transplantation.


Do you have any advice to offer aspiring engineers?

Take advantage of any opportunities to learn more about career steps you may want to pursue in the future, whether it is going to conferences or internships if you think you want to go into industry.


Do you still feel connected to the Hopkins community? Would you like to be more involved?

I’ve recently had the opportunity to continue collaborating with Hopkins through a partnership between my current company, United Therapeutics, and the ICM.


JHU - Institute for Computational Medicine