New investigator: Siwei Zhao, PhD

Siwei Zhao, PhD

Siwei Zhao, PhD

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored at a ceremony on March 9 for UNMC’s Scientist Laureate, Research Leadership, Distinguished Scientist, New Investigator and Community Service to Research Award recipients.

New Investigator

The New Investigator Award is given to outstanding UNMC scientists who, in the past two years, have secured their first funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense or other national sources. New Investigator Award recipients also need to demonstrate scholarly activity, such as publishing their research and/or presenting their findings at national conventions.

  • Name: Siwei Zhao, PhD
  • Title: Assistant professor, UNMC Department of Surgery
  • Joined UNMC: 2019
  • Hometown: Beijing, China

Please describe your research focus in three words or less:

Electric therapies

Why is research important in the world today? 

We still know very little about how physical energies (electrical, optical, mechanical) interact with our human body and how such interaction can be used to benefit our health. Research helps us quantitatively examine the good and the bad impact of these physical forces on our body and may lead to better diagnoses and treatments of human diseases.

My research will make a difference because:

Electrical energy, in the forms of electric current and field, has long been used in the treatment of human diseases, including pain relief, wound healing, tissue regeneration and drug delivery. However, the efficacy of these current treatments is limited, and one of the major reasons is the lack of a technology that can safely apply therapeutically effective levels of electrical energy without causing damage to biological tissues. Our research is focused on developing novel devices that can safely apply high electric current intensities to significantly enhance the treatment efficacy of electric therapies. Currently, we are applying our technology to transdermal drug delivery, nerve regeneration and wound healing. We are hoping that one day our technology can be successfully translated to human patients to enhance disease outcomes.

The best advice I’ve ever received is:

A good sense of humor is an essential life skill that gets you through times of difficulty.

Three things you may not know about me are:

  • I like sci-fi movies. I am especially obsessed with the cool technologies presented in those movies. And I love to think about how we can bring those technologies to life, which has served as a strong motivation for my career as a biomedical engineer.
  • I majored in microelectronics and semiconductor physics (basically the theory and making of computer chips) in college. After I took a summer class on biomicrofluidics, I decided that this was my area of interest, and that was why I switched to biomedical engineering for my PhD. Plus, I just could not develop a love for physics no matter how hard I tried.
  • I have lived on the west coast in a northern California town, on the east coast in a New England coastal city, and now I am in the Midwest, and I love them all.


  1. Jingwei Xie says:


  2. Shan Fan says:

    Congrats, Siwei!

  3. Jackie Nelson says:

    Congratulations, Dr. Zhao!

  4. Tammy Slachetka says:


  5. Michelle Varney says:

    Congratulations Dr. Zhao!

  6. Amir Salati says:

    Congratulations, Dr. Zhao!

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