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All Biomedical Engineering majors must choose a specialty Emphasis Area, which they focus on for the entirety of their senior year. Students in the B.Bm.E. program are strongly encouraged to choose an Emphasis Area spring of their junior year, so that they may take one of their Engineering and Science Electives that semester, as suggested in the B.Bm.E. Four-Year Plan.
We currently offer eight emphasis areas in our program:
BEI seeks to record, process, image, and control biomedical signals and to develop instrumentation for biological research and medical applications. Specific examples of bioelectricity and instrumentation include cardiac pacemakers, brain-computer interfaces that link the brain to the environment, and magnetic resonance imaging systems. BEI Course List >
Students in the emphasis area of Biomaterials are expected to become acquainted with the general principles of designing, synthesizing, processing, and characterizing biomaterials and to learn to use biomaterials to solve problems in biology and medicine. Courses on life science, fundamentals of materials science and engineering, and interactions between materials and living elements are relevant. Biomaterials Course List >
The area of Biomechanics is extremely broad, so it is broken down into two sub-disciplines:
Mechanics of Tissues and Biomaterials - This area emphasizes understanding how biological and biomedical materials deform under load. You will be preparing yourself to work on tissue mechanics problems (e.g., how much does a vessel expand in response to a change in pressure, how much does a heart valve leaflet deflect under a given load, or how much does a tendon stretch given a certain amount of tension) as well as on mechanical aspects of biomaterials selection (e.g., what vascular graft or stent materials would provide a good match to the native tissue?).
Kinematics and Biomechanical Design - This area emphasizes the design of biomechanical devices and how linkage systems behave. You will be preparing yourself to work on the design of mechanical systems for biomedical use (e.g., how one should design a knee brace to be as light as possible but still provide the necessary support) and to understand the dynamics of large-scale motions (e.g., what causes the characteristic features of the various gait irregularities and how can they be corrected?).
BTP involves three fundamental processes: momentum transfer, mass transfer, and heat transfer. Momentum transfer is what underlies flow fluid in the subject known as fluid mechanics. Applications of fluid mechanics in BME range from predicting blood flow in vessels, to flow of samples in "lab-on-chip" microfluidic systems, to flow of cell culture medium through tissue-engineered cartilage in bioreactors. Mass and heat transfer is ability to deliver molecules and energy, respectively, from a source to a target. Applications of mass and heat transfer range from predicting blood oxygenation rates in capillaries from oxygen in lung alveoli and in hollow fibers from pure oxygen gas in "heart-lung machines," to movement of mRNA generated in the cell nucleus to cytoplasmic ribosomes. BTP Course List >
In cell and molecular bioengineering (CMBE) we take advantage of natural biological processes for the advancement of industrial biotechnologies. For example, by harnessing the power of genetic manipulation, we can control cellular production of small molecules, enzymes (catalysts) and other biomolecules that can be used in the treatment of disease and/or in the development of nanoscale medical devices. Additionally, one desperate need is to improve approaches to discovering new drugs, and students in this emphasis area will be well positioned to pursue graduate work and ultimately a career in the pharmaceutical industry. For this emphasis area, we very strongly encourage students to complete the Organic Chemistry sequence (Organic I and II, along with Organic Lab). We also strongly encourage students to take Chemical Engineering courses (Reaction Kinetics and Reactor Eng. as well as Biochemical Engineering). Finally, it is critical that students take advanced Lab courses, such as the Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Lab (BIOC 4125). CMBE Course List >
Cell and tissue engineering seeks to control biological function at the cell and tissue level. Specific examples of tissue engineering are bioreactors for controlled physical/chemical stimuli, drug and nutrient transport through tissue, and tissue mechanical properties. Specific examples of cell engineering are control of cell migration, division, growth, and death through therapeutic drugs or other molecular agents, such as those released from drug-eluting stents. CTE Course List >
The medical device area covers an extreme range from implantable coronary artery stents to refrigerator-sized blood testers. Three main areas that students focus on are electronic devices (such as pacemakers, blood testers, etc), stimulation and monitoring (nerve stimulators, EKG’s), and external medical devices (dialysis machines, blood testers, cardiac assist). Medical Device Design Course List >
Neural Engineering uses engineering principles to understand how the brain works and develops new technology to interact and treat the brain. The curriculum for this emphasis area is designed to teach the basics of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology and the fundamentals of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, tinnitus, and epilepsy. Students in this area also develop engineering skills such as signal processing, image processing, instrumentation and computational modeling as well as electrode design, amplifier and filter design, brain machine interfaces, cochlear implants, and deep brain stimulation. Neural Engineering Course List >