General Information | Degree Programs | Program Descriptions | Course Descriptions | Faculty
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Department of Biomedical Engineering
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Students seeking the Master of Engineering degree develop competence in some field of direct application of engineering to health care; instrumentation, computer applications, image processing, and rehabilitation engineering are the chief areas of such specialization. Students planning careers in research, advanced development and design, or teaching usually pursue the Master of Science degree that requires a thesis based on an independent research project. In the Ph.D. program, further advanced courses are followed by dissertation research in the biotechnology areas mentioned above, in molecular and cellular biology, or in the fields of bioelectricity, biotransport, or biomechanics.
The Biomedical Engineering program encompasses a core curriculum of mathematics, life sciences, and instrumentation which reinforces and extends the diverse undergraduate bases of entering students. For students seeking primarily the M.E. degree, this core is followed by engineering or life science electives in the intended area of specialization. Each M.E. student develops a practical project in their area of specialization. (The project is a departmental requirement for the M.E. degree, applying beyond the 30-hour minimum course requirement.) The final M.E. exam (oral) focuses on the student's project as well as on areas covered by the student's program of study. The M.E. degree requires, depending on the student's preparation and interests, from two to four academic semesters and a summer.
For M.S. students, substantial emphasis is placed on the research project that will be the basis of their master's thesis. Thesis work is expected to be of publishable caliber. The final M.S. exam (oral) focuses on the master's thesis as well as on areas covered by the student's program of studies.
The M.S. degree is designed to prepare students for research and development careers in university, industry, and government organizations, and for entry into the doctoral program in Biomedical Engineering, so that M.S. graduates may assume leadership roles in biomedical engineering research and development. This goal is achieved through coursework in the life sciences and engineering disciplines, completion of a research project under the guidance of a faculty advisor, and documentation of the research in a written thesis. Interaction with the academic and professional scientific and engineering community is also encouraged through participation in seminars, scientific meetings and publication of research results in scientific journals. Areas of research specialization include magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy, image processing, ultrasound imaging, instrumentation, rehabilitation, genetic engineering, and theoretical and experimental study of the cellular biomechanics and biophysics of the cardiovascular, pulmonary, and neurological systems. Twenty-four credits of graduate courses and defense of submitted thesis describing the student's research are required.
Doctoral students extend the core program with courses in advanced physiology, cell and molecular biology, mathematics, and engineering. It normally requires three years beyond the master's, or five beyond the baccalaureate, to achieve the necessary interdisciplinary competence. Exceptional students may choose a double-degree program which leads, after a minimum of six years, to a simultaneous Ph.D. and M.D.; for this option they must be formally admitted to both the Engineering and the Medical Schools.
Examinations required during the doctoral program follow the standard sequence described in Degree Requirements; for students continuing in the department from the master's to the Ph.D. program, the master's examination serves the qualifying function of the preliminary examination.
Although the primary activities of the Biomedical Engineering Department are graduate study and research, advanced undergraduates enroll in courses in physiology, biomedical image analysis and bioelectricity. These, as well as new graduate students, come from any undergraduate engineering field or from the physical or life sciences. Our program is one of those included in the Educational Common Market of southeastern colleges and universities; applicants from schools in this region should check on the advantages this provides. Appropriate background preparation includes calculus, differential equations, circuit analysis, physics, chemistry, computer programming, and biology.
Active research projects include: network mapping to study microvascular cell function, in vivo leucocyte mechanics and molecular mechanisms, biophysics of cell adhesion, microvascular indicator transport for assessing exchange characteristics of endothelium, electron microprobe and patch clamp techniques for molecular and cellular transport, neuromuscular transmission in disease states, blood density measurements for blood volume distribution, functional image acquisition, quantitative analysis and tissue characterization, blood velocity estimation by high-resolution ultrasound imaging and evaluation of ultrasonic contract agents, multidimensional visualization, rapid imaging of tissue metabolism and blood flow by magnetic resonance imaging techniques, magnetic resonance imaging for noninvasive characterization of atherosclerosis and cancer, neurosurgical planning, picture archival and communication systems, mechanics of soft tissue trauma, and gait analysis. Multidisciplinary research programs in the Engineering of Wound Prevention and Repair, and Genetic Engineering Targeting Vascular Disease, sponsored by the Whitaker Foundation, are developed by the department and will include a core laboratory providing facilities for in vivo and in vitro studies. The students benefit from the facilities and collaborators in the Schools of Medicine, Engineering and Applied Science, and Graduate Arts and Sciences. These activities and resources bring the student into contact with the problems and methods typical of the diversity of fields, to achieve the breadth and judgment which are the goals of the Ph.D. program. A University-wide medical imaging program supports studies on picture archiving and communication systems, rapid MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) acquisition, image perception, MRI of atherosclerosis, image segmentation, MRI microscopy, high resolution ultrasound imaging, and ultrasound contrast agents.
Departmental facilities occupy about 13,000 square feet in Stacey Hall (Health Sciences Center). Included are laboratories for student projects, physiological and biochemical studies, animal surgery, instrument development, as well as shops for instrument maintenance and fabrication. Equipment includes a variety of sensors and recorders, VAX, SUN, HP, IBM PC computers with A/D and D/A conversion facilities; video equipment; lasers; equipment for static and dynamic characterization of transducers; patch-clamp and intracellular recording facilities, and a ratio fluorescence (Fura-2) instrument for calcium titration. An image-processing facility includes a Leitz Orthoplan microscope, an Eikonix digital camera, high-frequency and clinical ultrasound systems, and SGI and Sun Workstations. University facilities such as the IBM RS-6000 computers, electron microscopes, optical and mass spectrometers, and ultrasonic and magnetic resonance imaging equipment are available, as are other specialized equipment and consultation from collaborating departments, and the Institute for Technology in Medicine. The mission of the Institute is to enhance the collaboration of faculty and students in the Schools of Engineering, Medicine, Arts and Sciences, Business, and Law, further the development and utilization of cutting-edge technology for scientific discovery and improved therapy in medicine, and encourage the formation of partnership with the medical industry.
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