Spotlight: Dr. Kyle Allison

Dr. Kyle Allison recently joined the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory as faculty this August. Born and raised in Flint, Michigan, Dr. Allison never thought of himself as a biomedical engineer. He majored in Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan and thought he would become a doctor. However, Dr. Allison felt he had a knack for the research side of healthcare, over the patient care side.

Therefore, Dr. Allison pursued undergraduate research at the University of Michigan’s department of Chemical Engineering, and he became interested in systems biology. It appealed to Dr. Allison because it applied engineering principles to biology. Come time for grad school, Dr. Allison applied to a biomedical engineering program with James Collins – a pioneer of systems biology. Dr. Allison got the chance to work with Dr. Collins and is now pursuing his research here at Emory in systems biology. Specifically, Dr. Allison is looking at improving antibiotics against “persistent” bacteria or bacteria that have antibiotic resistance.

Before coming down to Atlanta, Dr. Allison received a grant from the NIH called the Early Independence award; it allowed junior researchers to jump-start their career by allowing them to set up their lab without having to pursue a five year plus post-doctoral program. Dr. Allison set up his lab at Columbia University in New York. However, the grant did not allow for him to pursue a professorship which was something Dr. Allison wanted in his career. Therefore, at the beginning of this year when he was in the job market, he looked at the best biomedical engineering program that was hiring, and of course, the Georgia Tech and Emory joint biomedical engineering program was on his list.

Having never lived in the South, what made Dr. Allison move from his lab in New York to Atlanta was his interactions with the faculty and staff at both Georgia Tech and Emory University.

He was impressed how the faculty supported each other, and how they still want to improve the program – even though it is already top ranked. Furthermore, the bacterial resistance research community here in Atlanta is thriving with the addition of Emory’s antimicrobial resistance center. Dr. Allison wanted to be where that innovation so with his wife he moved down to Atlanta.

Finally settled into his lab and into his new home, Dr. Allison is enjoying Atlanta and looking forward to working with faculty and staff at different universities. He has set up a time in his schedule every week to go to the Georgia Tech campus to meet Georgia Tech faculty. He is working on a potential collaboration with different professors and plans to let researchers use his state of the art microscope. Dr. Allison hopes to begin teaching shortly to give back and help train the next generation of engineers!

Edited by: Vikram Varadarajan