Research

Overview

Biomedical Engineering research is at the interface of engineering, biology, and medicine. The program features an interdisciplinary approach in four complementary research areas: tissue engineering/regenerative medicine, neuroengineering/imaging, biomaterials/nanotechnology, and biomechanics.

Emphasis Areas of Research

Neuroengineering

Neurotechnology is an emerging field with the potential to be as revolutionary as digital electronics and information technologies. It brings together basic science, engineering, computer science and translational/clinical research to achieve its goals of evaluating and treating disorders of the nervous system and developing new innovative technologies to restore lost function. The innovations in this field will have a broad impact, from advanced human neural prosthetics and brain-controlled autonomous robots to novel intelligent implantable technologies to treat and diagnose diseases such as epilepsy, or external devices to promote recovery from stroke, to new paradigms in computing and information processing that emulate human brain function. Neurotechnologies, at the frontier crossing of science, engineering and medicine, offer the potential of catalyzing major scientific and medical advances in the 21st century.

Biosensors and Bioplatforms

The past decade has seen an explosion of new capabilities in materials design. Production processes including bottoms-up chemistry and top-down micromachining have now been integrated, giving biomedical engineers a new level of control over the molecular and nanometer scale structure of polymers, ceramics, metals and semiconductors. As a result, biomaterials destined for the human body are no longer just mechanical in function; they are increasingly multi-functional offering delivery of drugs on command, electrical conductivity for nerve replacement, and optical activity designed for retinal and optogenetic applications.  These features also are exploited in the miniaturization of highly complex sensors usable both in-vivo for real-time diagnostics as well as ex-vivo for blood or other fluid analysis. This new generation of medical device technologies are applicable to a range of clinical disciplines including global health, emergency medicine, infectious disease, surgery, cardiovascular research, pathobiology, neurology and orthopedics. With concurrent advances in data science, these new biomaterials and sensors will fundamentally alter modern health care.

Mechanobiology

Quantitative principles of mechanics are being applied across a range of length scales from neuro-musculoskeletal function to the movement of single bi- ological molecules in order to answer both fundamental questions as well as questions relevant to clinical care. For example, motion analyses, such as gait analysis, generate quantitative information on neuro-musculoskeletal function critical to understanding disease pathophysiology, or sports medicine as well as treatment interventions. With recent technological advances, motion sciences/biomechanics is finding new translational opportunities such as prosthesis design or the use of virtual reality to aid rehabilitation. At the molecular and cellular, motion sciences/biomechanics are using new sophisticated tools to mea-sure the forces and kinematics of molecules and cells and how these entities facilitate such fundamental processes as cell migration or contribute to diseases such as arthritis.

Regenerative Engineering

Regenerative medicine embodies tissue engineering and artificial organs and touches on essentially all medical specialties from cardiology through obstet-rics, cancer, trauma and others. The ability to regenerate or replace tissue that has been lost to injury or disease with biological substitutes is one of the great medical challenges of the 21st century. Efforts in tissue engineering are using biomaterials, living cells, nanomaterials, degradable polymers, stem cells, and growth factors to restore damaged myocardium, provide new solutions to infertility, novel tissue platforms for drug delivery, substitutes for secretory organs, neuroplasticity and nerve grafting, and reconstitution of the musculoskeletal system to name a few. These efforts require a confluence of effort from multiple disciplines including cell/developmental biology, materials science, molecular biology, polymer chemistry, experimental surgery, and clinical medicine.