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Remembering Professor Emeritus Allan Hoffman

January 3, 2024

This article was adapted from an obituary written by Buddy Ratner, UW professor of chemical engineering and of bioengineering.

ChemE remembers the legacy of Allan Hoffman, professor emeritus of the UW Department of Bioengineering.

Allan Hoffman enjoying a cigar

Allan Hoffman arrived at the University of Washington in 1970. He was recruited by Robert Rushmer, the founding director of the Center of Bioengineering at the University of Washington, which then became the Department of Bioengineering. Though his time at the UW was primarily affiliated with BioE, Hoffman's first appointment was associate professor of chemical engineering. He held an office in Benson Hall and was an influential part of ChemE, supervising many of the department's graduate students, postdocs and visiting scientists.

Hoffman’s contributions to chemical engineering and bioengineering are evidenced by over 500 published research papers. He published the first paper introducing polyNIPAM for biomedical applications, which is now the subject of more than 31,000 papers. Hoffman also published the first paper on modulating the response of synthetic polymers by biomolecule immobilization. He was a pioneer figure in the area of biotechnology and drug delivery throughout the course of his career, which earned him recognition among the “World's Most Influential Scientific Minds” by Thomson Reuters in 2015.

Allan Hoffman traveled the world as an “ambassador for biomaterials,” educating others on the importance and unique challenges of biomaterials in medicine and biology. He received numerous international awards, and in 2005 he was elected to the US National Academy of Engineering. Some of his notable honors include the International Recognition Award from the Society for Polymer Science, Japan (SPSJ) and the Acta Biomaterialia Gold Medal for his leadership in the research of engineering biomaterials.

Those close to him will fondly remember Allan taking pleasure in a little cigar or a glass of wine. His warmth, friendliness and generous smile were infectious, as was his sense of humor.

Allan Hoffman passed away in December of 2023. He was an inspiring and beloved friend and mentor to many, and will be greatly missed by the ChemE community.