William J. Federspiel, PhD

Dr. William Federspiel joined the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh in 1995 as an Associate Professor. He received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rochester in 1983 and has held academic positions in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and Boston University. His past industrial experience includes being a Principal Staff Scientist at ABIOMED Inc., a Boston-based blood pump company, and a Research Scientist at the Biomechanics Institute in Boston, a nonprofit bioengineering think-tank. In addition to his current academic position, Dr. Federspiel is a Founder of ALung Technologies, a Pittsburgh-based medical start-up company, for which he served as the head of the scientific advisory board. ALung is now a part of LivaNova PLC.

Currently, Dr. Federspiel is the John A. Swanson Professor in the Department of Bioengineering with secondary appointments in Chemical Engineering, Critical Care Medicine and Clinical and Translational Sciences. He is also the Director of the Medical Devices Laboratory at the McGowan Institute.  The major research theme of the Medical Devices Laboratory is the development of medical devices whose therapeutic function stems from biotransport and bioseparation processes and which can be translated for near-term clinical use in cardiothoracic surgery or critical care medicine.

Dr. Federspiel’s current research interests include:

  • Design and development of novel artificial lung devices, including portable and wearable assist lungs, for near-term clinical use in the treatment of respiratory failure in patients with acute, acute on chronic, or chronic lung insufficiencies.
  • Design and development of membrane and particle-based blood purification devices for the selective or semi-selective and patterned removal of pathogenic antibodies, inflammatory mediators, and other blood borne solutes for near-term clinical use in critical care settings.
  • Advanced application of fluid mechanics and mass transport principles to model and optimize artificial lungs and other membrane-based medical devices where functional performance depends on underlying transport or separation principles.

A few of the many career accomplishments of Dr. Federspiel include being elected a Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the National Academy of Inventors. He is also a long-term member of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs (ASAIO). He served as a regular member of the NIH Study Section on Bioengineering, Technology and Surgical Sciences (BTSS) from 2009-2013 and has been an ad-hoc member of over 30 other NIH or VA Study Sections. He served as the Bioengineering Section Editor for the ASAIO Journal from 2004-2019.  He serves on several journal editorial boards, including Pediatric Research and Neonatal Care, Journal of Clinical Respiratory Diseases and Care, Advanced Healthcare Technologies, and the Medical Instrumentation Journal. In 2019, he received the Carnegie Science Award for Life Sciences and in 2021, the Marlin Mickle Outstanding Innovator Award at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Federspiel has over 125 peer reviewed journal articles or book chapters published or in press, over 100 proceedings and abstracts, and over 75 invited talks at national and international universities and meetings. A list of some of Dr. Federspiel’s publications is here.