Release Date: April 14, 2010
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo has obtained New York State Department of Education approval to offer its Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering. The new academic program is a joint effort between the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Launched in 2008 with a $2 million grant from the John R. Oishei Foundation, UB's new Department of Biomedical Engineering will offer the baccalaureate program in the fall and will advance research in this growing field. University officials created the department to support Western New York's robust medical device industry. The new department is intended to produce a pipeline of highly skilled graduates and spin off new medical technologies and businesses to benefit local industry.
UB currently is raising an additional $1 million to support initiatives within the new department and will receive an additional $1 million from the Oishei Foundation upon doing so.
"The biomedical engineering program formalizes an existing synergy between our engineering and medical school faculty for the benefit of our students," said UB Provost Satish K. Tripathi. "The undergraduate program in biomedical engineering is an opportunity for our current and future students to earn a degree in a dynamic 21st century field. Moreover, the program will provide additional opportunities for our undergraduate students to engage in faculty-mentored primary research enabling students, researchers and businesses to work together more effectively on critical scientific and medical issues affecting quality of life."
Interested students can apply now for fall enrollment in UB's undergraduate program in biomedical engineering. Proposals to establish new master's and doctoral programs in biomedical engineering at UB are expected to be submitted for State Education Department review and approval in the near future.
The new department complements three strategic strengths of UB 2020, the university's long-term strategic plan: Molecular Recognition and Bioinformatics, Health and Wellness Across the Life Span and Integrated Nanostructured Systems.
The new degree program is being offered at a time when the field of biomedical engineering is experiencing tremendous growth, noted Harvey G. Stenger, Jr., dean of UB Engineering.
"The biomedical engineering field is growing so fast that UB soon will be enrolling many new students and our faculty will be producing research that can be used immediately by local medical device companies," he said. "Enrollment in this field is way up, nationally. There are four times as many biomedical engineering students in the nation today as there were just a decade ago, and demand for students possessing these skills is growing rapidly, locally and nationally."
Michael E. Cain, MD, dean of the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said: "The marriage between engineering and medicine is essential to translating basic discovery in engineering to improving human health and wellness. Our new department allows us to formalize and expand our expertise in biomedical engineering and positions UB to lead in this key area of health-related research.
"It is a vibrant and growing field," Cain continued. "In fact, one of our best medical students was just awarded a nationally-competitive fellowship in biomedical engineering to conduct research in improving vascular stents and vascular grafts."
Alexander N. Cartwright, PhD, chair of the UB Department of Electrical Engineering and the new chair of the UB Department of Biomedical Engineering, said there already has been tremendous interest from UB's student body.
The new department's 14 full-time faculty members were selected based on their current research funding in biomedical engineering. The initial faculty have dual appointments in biomedical engineering and in their home departments, which range from medicine to electrical engineering.
Four new full-time hires will be made during the next two years.
"We are slated for growth," Cartwright said.
The first class is expected to graduate by 2012. Biomedical engineering students enroll in the general engineering curriculum for the first two years, and then take specialized courses in the department during their junior and senior years.
The department will work with local companies to develop opportunities to conduct joint research and senior design projects, which will be required of all biomedical engineering students, either working with faculty in a lab or in an industrial setting.
"We want to collaborate with local industry and ask for input from companies," said Cartwright. "It will be a win-win for the companies, our faculty and our students."
Current research projects in the department are focused on development of "smart" band-aids, which sense the wound microenvironment and release wound-healing compounds when needed; artificial skin that regenerates after severe burns; next-generation X-ray imaging systems; stem cells for treating diabetes and cardiovascular disease and batteries to power implantable biomedical devices.
For more information about biomedical engineering at UB, go to http://www.bme.buffalo.edu/ or contact Cheryl Michalowski at (716) 645-8500.