Biomedical engineering is an evolving discipline in engineering that draws on collaboration among engineers, physicians, and scientists to provide interdisciplinary insight into medical and biological problems. The field has developed its own knowledge base and principles that are the foundation for the academic programs designed by the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia.
The programs in biomedical engineering at Columbia (B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Eng.Sc.D., and M.D./Ph.D.) prepare students to apply engineering and applied science to problems in biology, medicine, and the understanding of living systems and their behavior, and to develop biomedical systems and devices. Modern engineering encompasses sophisticated approaches to measurement, data acquisition and analysis, simulation, and systems identification. These approaches are useful in the study of individual cells, organs, entire organisms, and populations of organisms. The increasing value of mathematical models in the analysis of living systems is an important sign of the success of contemporary activity. The programs offered in the Department of Biomedical Engineering seek to emphasize the confluence of basic engineering science and applied engineering with the physical and biological sciences, particularly in the areas of biomechanics, cell and tissue engineering, and biosignals and biomedical imaging.
Programs in biomedical engineering are taught by its own faculty, members of other Engineering departments, and faculty from other University divisions who have strong interests and involvement in biomedical engineering. Several of the faculty hold joint appointments in Biomedical Engineering and other University departments.
Courses offered by the Department of Biomedical Engineering are complemented by courses offered by other departments in The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and by many departments in the Faculty of Medicine, the School of Dentistry and Oral Surgery, and the Mailman School of Public Health, as well as the science departments within the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The availability of these courses in a university that contains a large medical center and enjoys a basic commitment to interdisciplinary research is important to the quality and strength of the program.
Educational programs at all levels are based on engineering and biological fundamentals. From this basis, the program branches into concentrations along three tracks: biomechanics, cell and tissue engineering, and biosignals and biomedical imaging. The intrinsic breadth included of these tracks, and a substantial elective content, prepare bachelor’s and master’s students to commence professional activity in any area of biomedical engineering or to go on to graduate school for further studies in related fields. The program also provides excellent preparation for the health sciences and the study of medicine. Graduates of the doctoral program are prepared for research activities at the highest level.
Areas of particular interest to Columbia faculty include orthopaedic and musculoskeletal biomechanics (Professors Ateshian, Guo, Hess, Huang, Jacobs, and Mow), cardiovascular biomechanics (Professor Homma), cellular and tissue engineering and artificial organs (Professors Hung, Kam, Leonard, H. H. Lu, Morrison, Sia, and Vunjak-Novakovic), auditory biophysics (Professor Olson), and biosignals and biomedical imaging (Professors Hielscher, Hillman, DeLaPaz, Konofagou, Laine, Z. F. Lu, Pile-Spellman, Sajda, and Smith).
The Department of Biomedical Engineering has been supported by grants obtained from NIH, NSF, New York State, numerous research foundations, and University funding. The extensive new facilities that have recently been added both at the Medical Center and Morningside campus include new teaching and research laboratories that provide students with unusual access to contemporary research equipment specially selected for its relevance to biomedical engineering. An undergraduate wet laboratory devoted to biomechanics and cell and tissue engineering has been added, together with a biosignals and biomedical imaging and data processing laboratory. Each laboratory incorporates equipment normally reserved for advanced research and provides exceptional access to current practices in biomedical engineering and related sciences. Adjacent to the new laboratories is a lounge that serves as a meeting point for biomedical engineering undergraduate and graduate students.
Research facilities of the Biomedical Engineering faculty include the Liu Ping Laboratory for Functional Tissue Research (Professor Mow), the Heffner Biomedical Imaging Laboratory (Professor Laine), the Laboratory for Intelligent Imaging and Neural Computing (Professor Sajda), the Biophotonics and Optical Radiology Laboratory (Professor Hielscher), the Bone Bioengineering Laboratory (Professor Guo), the Cell and Tissue Engineering Laboratory (Professor Hung), the Biomaterial and Interface Tissue Engineering Laboratory (Professor Lu), the Neurotrauma and Repair Laboratory (Professor Morrison), the Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering (Professor Vunjak-Novakovic), the Ultrasound and Elasticity Imaging Laboratory (Professor Konofagou), the Microscale Biocomplexity Laboratory (Professor Kam), the Molecular and Microscale Bioengineering Laboratory (Professor Sia), the Laboratory for Functional Optical Imaging (Professor Hillman), the Cell and Molecular Biomechanics Laboratory (Professor Jacobs), and the Biomechanics and Mechanotransduction Laboratory (Professor Huang), the Nanobiotechnology and Synthetic Biology Laboratory (Professor Hess). These laboratories are supplemented with core facilities, including a tissue culture facility, a histology facility, a confocal microscope, an atomic force microscope, a 2-photon microscope, an epifluorescence microscope, a freezer room, biomechanics facilities, a machine shop, and a specimen prep room.