DeMali named chair and DEO of Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Date: Friday, June 7, 2024

Kris DeMali, PhD, has been appointed chair and department executive officer of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Carver College of Medicine, effective June 7, 2024. DeMali has served as the department’s interim chair and DEO since August 2020. 

“After conducting a national search for this position, it was determined that Kris DeMali is best suited to continue leading the department at a pivotal time of recruitment and expansion,” says Denise Jamieson, MD, MPH, UI vice president for medical affairs and the Tyrone D. Artz Dean of the Carver College of Medicine. “Given the experience she has developed as interim chair, she is well-equipped to keep the momentum moving forward. Kris is an impressive leader, researcher, and mentor, and I am confident that her continued leadership will help the department achieve even greater success.”

During her tenure as interim chair, DeMali has:  

  • Secured pilot grant funding from the Walder Foundation to support innovative pilot grants to department faculty 
  • Revamped the biochemistry and molecular biology teaching portfolio to increase efficacy and efficiency in undergraduate and graduate teaching 
  • Reduced teaching loads of research-active faculty to allow more time for research 
  • Recruited a new tenure-track faculty member 

DeMali, a UI faculty member since 2006, has been a leader in the department as a researcher, teacher, and mentor. In addition to her teaching duties in biochemistry, she has supervised and mentored dozens of undergraduate and graduate students throughout her career. DeMali has received a number of teaching and mentoring awards, including the JP Long Award—presented within the Carver College of Medicine—and the UI College of Pharmacy Teaching Award. She has also been active as a presenter, facilitator, and organizer of numerous national conferences and seminars. 

DeMali’s research is at the forefront of an emerging field of science called mechanobiology, which focuses on how physical forces and changes in the mechanical properties of cells and tissues contribute to development, physiology, and disease. Collaborating across several disciplines, DeMali’s laboratory has published several seminal studies describing how cells derive the energy they need to withstand external forces. Her work is supported by a Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award from the National Institute for General Medical Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health. 

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has 16 primary faculty members and five secondary faculty members. It is one of five basic science departments in the Carver College of Medicine.  

The chair is the leader of all aspects of the department, serves as the spokesperson for the faculty, and represents the department throughout UI Health Care and practitioners throughout the state and nationally.