Robert E. Akins, PhD
Primary Title: Director – Center for Pediatric Clinical Research and Development
Additional Title(s): Principal Scientist
Head – Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory (TERM)
Scientific Director – Clinical Research Services Core
Chair – Nemours Institutional Biosafety Committees
Director, Professional Development for the Delaware Clinical & Translational Research ACCEL Program
Director of Research, Delaware INBRE
Bio: Robert E. Akins, Jr., PhD, FAACPDM, FAHA is a Principal Scientist, Director of the Center for Pediatric Clinical Research and Development, and Head of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Research at the Nemours – Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE. He is an Affiliated Professor in Materials Science & Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Biological Sciences at the University of Delaware. Dr. Akins received both his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Pennsylvania where he was a Benjamin Franklin Scholar in the undergraduate General Honors program and an Otto Loewi Scholar at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, as a graduate student. He was the first American honored as a fellow of the Japan Foundation on Aging and Health for work in cardiology and pharmacology research. He is an inaugural Fellow of the American Heart Association Council on Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia and a Fellow of the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine. He is recipient of a Delaware INBRE Summit Award and was named “Neuroscientist of the Year” in 2013 by the DE Society for Neuroscience to honor his efforts to expand neuroscience research and education. In 2014, Dr. Akins was honored as “Researcher of the Year” for Nemours – DV, and in 2015, he was named “Director of Research” for the Delaware INBRE. He has served on multiple editorial boards, scientific advisory committees, and NIH, DoD, VA, and foundation review panels. Since 2009, he has worked extensively to integrate basic and translational research into the clinical environment at Nemours and has established cross-campus, multi-disciplinary programs to support clinical and translational scientists.
Research in the Akins group, which includes students, fellows, clinical investigators, professional research staff, and collaborators from academic partners, focuses on the development of regenerative therapies for pediatric diseases involving skeletal, cardiac, or vascular muscles. His current research goals are (i) To expand our understanding of aberrant muscle development in children with fetal or pediatric onset disease. (ii) To advance diagnostic testing and therapies addressing muscular deficits associated with congenital disease or early life injury. (iii) To improve post-surgical recovery in patients undergoing procedures to correct cardiac or vascular defects. His work has been generously supported by the Swank Foundation, the Nemours Foundation, the American Heart Association, NASA’s Biotechnology and Cell Science Program, and the National Institutes of Health (NHLBI, NICHD, NCRR, and NIGMS).