Biomedical engineers are professionals trained as engineers who specialize in the medical and biological sciences. We use our multidisciplinary expertise to design new medical instruments, devices and techniques for innovating new technological solutions for detecting, diagnosing, treating and preventing disease.
Wide range of specializations
Our degree programs respond to the need for educating engineers to lead the biotechnology revolution of the 21st-century. Biomedical engineers are essential for pushing forward the frontiers of science and technology, and for developing new tools and techniques to solve some of our most fundamental medical problems. We do not aim to graduate engineers who simply can understand and work with biological scientists. Rather, we educate engineers who are able to design biological hypotheses that require novel engineering solutions.
Consequently, our undergraduate program enables students to acquire technical depth in engineering, in addition to breadth in the biological sciences. Our graduate program is tailored to individual students' interests, offering specializations in biomaterials, biomechanics, bioinstrumentation and BioMEMS, biomedical imaging, systems biology, cellular-scale bioengineering, and neuroengineering.
Student and faculty achievements
We have approximately 200 undergraduate students (including pre-engineering freshmen) and 120 graduate students. Our distinguished graduates have become leaders in their field. You can find them in most of the major medical device companies and universities throughout the world. Our faculty are world-renowned and include outstanding senior and junior members, including 10 fellows of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers, 11 NSF Young Investigators (CAREER, NYI, PYI), 14 Whitaker Foundation Investigators, and two Technology Review named among the world's 100 top young innovators. We have 16 core biomedical engineering faculty members, with an additional 50 affiliate members from the College of Engineering, School of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Medicine and Public Health, who collaborate on research, advise our students, give lectures, and teach courses.
Facilities to support education and research
Completed in 2002, our building - the Engineering Centers Building (ECB) - offers state-of-the-art facilities in which students and faculty study, invent and discover. We are located on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus in close proximity to the School of Medicine and Public Health, UW Hospital and Clinics, and our world-class bioscience and biotechnology facilities.
In addition to our location in ECBlding, many BME faculty members have labs in the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research (WIMR) building, which is located on the School of Medicine and Public Health campus. WIMR is designed to encourage unique gatherings of scientists from different disciplines to address urgent health problems of common concern. WIMR is headquarters of the UW Carbone Cancer Center. Entire floors of the building are dedicated to prostate and breast cancer research as well as hematologic and pediatric oncology. Imaging sciences occupy the lower and first floors. Additonally, BME faculty occupy space at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (WID). WID, houses the public Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and the private Morgridge Institute for Research in a single, four-story facility only one block from ECB. WID serves as a hub for interdisciplinary research – spanning biotechnology, nanotechnology and information technologies – that will lead to the development of new biomedical treatments and technological applications aimed at improving human health and welfare.
All of these facilities offer our students and faculty an environment that is unparalleled for research, learning and innovation, making the University of Wisconsin-Madison a unique place to study biomedical engineering.
Connections with commercial opportunities
A critical component of the field of biomedical engineering is the ability to translate basic research advances into effective therapies, techniques or devices that impact patient care. The University of Wisconsin Coulter Medical Innovation Office (CMIO) has greatly facilitated our efforts to move promising research toward patient care. The office accelerates the development of medical devices, diagnostics and biotechnologies that have significant commercial potential. It offers three valuable services:
1. Technology assessment—Staff continually scout the UW-Madison campus, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) IP portfolio, and other campus programs for appropriate technologies.
2. Pre-commercial development funding—Support for technologies that have progressed on a commercial path beyond the point where traditional research funding sources are appropriate, but have not yet reached the point where they are fully commercially viable.
3. Business development expertise—CMIO staff act as a liaison between faculty, industry and investors to help faculty better understand their technology’s core benefits, value proposition and operational requirements. The CMIO is an arm of the UW-Madison D2P (development to product) Initiative and is located in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. The aims and mission of this program are closely aligned with the Morgridge Institute for Research. The program is supported by the College of Engineering, the School of Medicine and Public Health, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and the UW-Madison Graduate School.