Centers and Institutes

As a joint program of the Division of Engineering and the Division of Biology and Medicine, the Center for Biomedical Engineering (BME) integrates the engineering and physical sciences with the life sciences and clinical practice. BME faculty and students work in labs in the Division of Engineering, Departments of Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science, and several basic science and clinical Departments of the Division of Biology and Medicine.  This multi-disciplinary, inter-Divisional and inter-Institutional community is members and/or collaborators with other notable Centers and Institutes across campus and our affiliated hospitals. Listed below are brief descriptions and links to these Centers and Institutes that greatly enrich the scholarly and collaborative environment for teaching and research in biomedical engineering at Brown University.

Brown Institute for Brain Science

Brown's Institute for Brain Science (BIBS) is a unique interdisciplinary program deigned to promote collaborative theoretical and experimental study of the brain from the molecular to the behavioral and cognitive level.  It unites faculty who study the fundamental mechanisms of nervous system function and those who seek to create devices with brain-like functions that can assist mankind.  The faculty is also committed to translating fundamental knowledge for the diagnosis and treatment of the devastating effects of disease and trauma of the nervous system.

Cardiovascular Research Center (CVRC)

The Cardiovascular Research Center (CVRC) at the Department of Medicine, Rhode Island Hospital and the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University was founded in 2005 and is home to scientists, physician-scientists, and graduate and undergraduate students dedicated to basic cardiovascular research. Our mission is to unravel fundamental mechanisms of heart disease and to discover novel cardiac therapies. The research focus of CVRC investigators is on the molecular mechanisms of rhythm disorders of the heart (cardiac arrhythmias), sudden cardiac arrest, heart enlargement (hypertrophy) and heart failure.

Center for Advanced Materials Research (CAMR)

The goal of the Center for Advanced Materials Research is to coordinate and facilitate research and education in materials sciences across the campus, as well as to foster inter-institutional scholarship and study of modern materials by advanced experimental and theoretical tools.  The Center is presently anchored within several engineering disciplines, and the departments of physics and chemistry at Brown, with developing links to biology and biomedical sciences.  CAMR is the home to the NSF/Materials Research Science & Engineering Center (MRSEC) on Micro and Nano Mechanics of Materials, and the General Motors Brown University Collaborative Research Laboratory as well as other group investigator block grants. 

Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation

The Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation (IMNI) was founded at Brown University in 2007 as an umbrella organization to support centers and collaborative research teams in targeted areas of the molecular and nanosciences.  IMNI is a “polydisciplinary” venture with 55 faculty participants representing nine departments across campus.  IMNI serves as a focal point for interaction with industry, government, and our affiliated hospitals.  Most activity is centered around the Center for Advanced Materials Research, the Center for Nanoscience and Soft Matter, and Nanohealth. 

Liver Research Center

The Liver Research Center is a recently constructed 13,000-sq. ft. facility emphasizing molecular biology of liver diseases. Fellows may participate in many of the established studies i.e., genomics, pathogenesis of HCC.

The molecular relationship between chronic hepatitis B, C infection(s) and HCC is under investigation. Of interest is the generation of naturally occurring viral variants that convey different biologic properties, i.e., latency, low gene expression, and increased virulence. Ongoing studies examine the molecular mechanisms of viral integration into cellular DNA during the development of HCC with emphasis on HBV variants.

Attempts are underway to understand: hepadnavirus hepatocyte cell surface receptor binding protein, the functional role of hepatitis Bx protein, characterization and cloning of liver specific proteins. All relate to the hepatocyte transformation process since HBx, in combination with cellular factors, acts as a transcriptional transactivator of growth-related genes.

The development of antiviral approaches i.e., antisense oligonucleotides, ribozymes, dominant negative mutants, therapeutic viral DNA-based vaccines, that interfere with HBV/HCV replication. Gene therapy of viral hepatic disease to develop DNA constructs for delivery to the liver i.e., receptor mediated endocytosis of targeted liposomes, and use of various adenoviral, retroviral, and adeno-associated viral constructs that express genes of interest in hepatocytes.

Major work focuses on growth regulation of hepatocytes through factor receptors and intracellular signal transduction pathways i.e., insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1). Downstream MAP kinase activation is being studied in a variety of experimental and human disease systems. Finally, the relationship of chronic HBV infection and activation of growth factor signal transduction cascade is actively pursued at the molecular level.