Biomedical Engineering

Welcome to the Department of Biomedical Engineering at UW-Madison!!

If the human body is a machine, biomedical engineers are the mechanics. They design tools that improve human health by solving problems that involve biology and medicine, and they often work in teams that include physicians, biologists, nurses, therapists and others—even engineers from other disciplines. Biomedical engineers might use their education to design new medical instruments and devices, understand and heal the human body, develop bio-materials, or to attend medical school. They might work in pharmaceutical sales, as design engineers for medical technology companies like GE Healthcare or conduct research and development for laboratories like Abbott Labs or hospitals such as St. Jude.

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Research Advancements

Biomedical Engineering Degree Types

Our undergraduate program enables students to acquire technical depth in engineering, in addition to breadth in the biological sciences.Biomedical Engineering is the application of engineering tools to solve problems in biology and medicine that is practiced by professionals trained as engineers, who often work in teams including engineers, physicians, biologists, nurses and therapists. Biomedical engineers design new medical instruments and devices, applying engineering principles to understanding and repairing the human body. Common fields of study in include bioinstrumentation, medical imaging, biomechanics, biomaterials and cell and tissue engineering.

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Graduate students in biomedical engineering often wish to practice engineering or engage in research in an engineering specialization in medicine and biology. Our biomedical engineering faculty and affiliated faculty come from the various colleges and professional schools throughout the university. They specialize in biomedical engineering areas as diverse as biomechanics, bioinstrumentation, biomedical imaging and biophotonics, micro and nano technology, systems biology, biomaterials, cellular engineering, tissue engineering, neuroengineering, and rehabilitation and human performance.

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BME Seminar Series Schedule

The Dept. of Biomedical Engineering Seminar Series consists of presentations on current research topics of interest to biomedical engineering graduate students and faculty by on-campus and visiting engineers and scientists.

Seminars are on Mondays at noon in the Tong Auditorium (Room 1003 Engineering Centers Building, 1550 Engineering Drive) unless otherwise indicated.

Seminars are recorded and archived: Visit the Video Archive Here (login required) and the Abstract Archive Here

 

Biomedical Engineering Spring 2016 Seminar Program

Date Topic Speaker
Monday
2/1/2016
Micro Scale Tools Enable Functional and Mechanistic Insights in Cancer
(Abstract)
David Beebe, PhD
John D. MacArthur Professor & Claude Bernard Professor
Biomedical Engineering
UW-Madison
Monday
2/15/2016
The Emergent Collective Behavior of Bacteria Under Stress
(Abstract)
Robert Austin, PhD
Professor
Physics
Princeton University
Monday
2/22/2016
Microwave thermal ablation: Technology development and clinical application
(Abstract)
Christopher Brace, PhD
Associate Professor
Biomedical Engineering & Radiology
UW-Madison
Monday
2/29/2016
Understanding initial stages of carcinogenesis using label-free optical nanoimaging and nanosensing
(Abstract)
Vadim Backman, PhD
Walter Dill Scott Professor
Biomedical Engineering & Program Leader of Cancer and Physical Sciences at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center
Northwestern University
Monday
3/7/2016
Big Ten Speaker Exchange
Optical coherence tomography of retinal morphology and physiology
(Abstract)
Xincheng Yao, PhD
Professor
Bioengineering and Ophthalmology & Vision Sciences
University of Illinois at Chicago
Monday
3/14/2016
Uncovering the Behavior of Particles in the Lung by Coupling Numerical Predictions with Experimental Data
(Abstract)
Jessica Oakes, PhD
Presidential Postdoctoral Scholar
Mechanical Engnieering
UC Berkeley
Monday
3/28/2016
Engineering gene networks to program bacteria and their communities
(Abstract)
Ting Lu, PhD
Assistant Professor
Bioengineering
U of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
Monday
4/4/2016
The Biomedical Engineer at the Bedside: How Engineers have improved the Lives of Neurology Patients
(Abstract)
Elizabeth Felton, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor
Neurology
UW-Madison
Monday
4/11/2016
Big Ten Speaker Exchange
Engineered Lipid Vesicles as Carriers of Therapeutics for Selective Treatment of Untargetable Cancers
(Abstract)
Stravroula Sofou, PhD
Associate Professor
Biomedical Engineering
Rutgers University
Monday
4/18/2016
Osteoarthritis: A Multiscale Mechanics Perspective
(Abstract)
Corrine Henak, PhD
Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering
UW-Madison
Monday
4/25/2016
Midwest Graduate Student Speaker Exchange
Title: Development of Novel Nanomedicines for Treatment of Primary and Metastatic Prostate Cancer
(Abstract)
Omer Aydin
Phd Candidate
Department of Biomedical Engineering
University of Michigan



Abstract, 2/1/2016
Micro Scale Tools Enable Functional and Mechanistic Insights in Cancer

David Beebe, Ph.D

The role of cell-cell communication in many aspects of cancer (initiation, progression, resistance) is becoming increasingly apparent. We have developed a number of simple tools to improve our ability to manipulate and probe the nature of these multi cellular interactions both in isolation and in the context of the tumor microenvironment. These include 2D & 3D compartmentalized culture platforms to explore paracrine signaling and matrix interactions as well as lumen-based organotypic models to understand structure/function relationships. In addition, we have developed tools to enable multianalyte extraction from small precious samples from patients. We are applying these tools to understand how cell-cell communication influences various aspects of cancer development in the context of the tumor ecosystem. Examples include the transition from DCIS to IDC in breast cancer, metastasis to bone in prostate cancer, angiogenesis in kidney cancer, hormone response in breast cancer and resistance to therapy in multiple myeloma

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Abstract, 2/15/2016
The Emergent Collective Behavior of Bacteria Under Stress

Robert Austin, PhD

Outside the ivied halls of the academy, Darwinian evolution and competition puts an enormous selection pressure on organisms. Although physicists tend to think of bacteria as being rather simple entities living rather solitary and brief lives, our experience has been that under high stress complex environments and at high concentrations they initiate complex, cryptic signaling and information exchange whose purposes we at this point can only guess at. I’ll present experiments showing the complexity of the signals that bacteria exchange under stress, and try to provide some sort of a model to understand the purposes of this emergent collective behavior.

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Abstract, 2/22/2016
Microwave thermal ablation: Technology development and clinical application

Christopher Brace, PhD

Microwave thermal ablation is a minimally invasive, image-guided technique for treating many cancers. The objective is to heat and destroy cancerous tissue while sparing as much normal tissue as possible. This presentation will briefly outline the clinical need for microwave ablation and describe current technologies. The presentation will also cover technical challenges with solutions in the design of ablation systems, new research and clinical directions, and our experience in the translation of laboratory research to device commercialization and eventual clinical use.

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Abstract, 2/29/2016
Understanding initial stages of carcinogenesis using label-free optical nanoimaging and nanosensing

Vadim Backman, PhD

Initiation of carcinogenesis is accompanied by alterations in tumor microenvironment, cellular metabolism and epigenetics. Understanding these early events depends on our ability to image these subtle nanoarchitectural and functional processes. The talk discusses a suit of novel fiber-optic and in vitro diagnostic optical imaging techniques that have recently been developed to quantify intracellular and tissue morphology at the nanoscale and provide high-resolution imaging of metabolism and microangiography. The techniques have shown promise as a new platform for highly sensitive, cost-effective and non-invasive cancer screening and prognostication. From the clinical perspective, these techniques have shown promise as a new platform for highly sensitive, cost-effective and non-invasive screening and prognostication of lung, colon, and prostate cancers. From the biology perspective, the talk focuses on elucidating the role of higher-order chromatin structure and dynamics as a crucial driver of gene regulation and its dysregulation in many cellular pathological processes including carcinogenesis.

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Abstract, 3/7/2016
Optical coherence tomography of retinal morphology and physiology

Xincheng Yao, PhD

Given the excellent resolution to differentiate individual functional layers, optical coherence tomography (OCT) has increasing applications in retinal disease detection and treatment assessment. Better understanding of anatomic and physiological sources of retinal OCT is essential for accurate interpretation of clinical outcomes. Using custom-designed time-domain and spectral-domain OCTs, we have conducted a series of experiments to characterize the effect of sub-cellar structures such as photoreceptor inner segment (IS) ellipsoids and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) melanosomes. Moreover, we recently demonstrated functional OCT of transient intrinsic optical signal (IOS) changes correlated with retinal physiological kinetics, and developed multi-modal OCT to enable concurrent IOS imaging of retinal neural activity and angiographic monitoring of vascular hemodynamics.

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Abstract, 3/14/2016
Uncovering the Behavior of Particles in the Lung by Coupling Numerical Predictions with Experimental Data

Jessica Oakes, PhD

Pulmonary diseases cause a substantial medical and financial burden worldwide and are typically caused by inhalation of air pollution or cigarette smoke over a long period of time. Aerosolized medicine is an effective way to treat these diseases, however targeted lung delivery remains a challenge, especially in the presence of disease. Physiologically based computer simulations provide novel insight of lung mechanics, however simulations need validating before they can be translated into clinical settings. In this seminar, I will introduce a novel MRI method to quantify particle deposition in healthy and diseased rat lungs. Next, complementary multi-scale numerical simulations of airflow and particle transport will be discussed. I will then focus on the advantages of coupling simulations with experimental data to provide detailed insight beyond the resolution of the data. At the end of the talk I will discuss the challenge of validating computer models and my perspective on what is required to bring these types of models into medical practices.

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Abstract, 3/28/2016
Engineering gene networks to program bacteria and their communities

Ting Lu, PhD

Gene regulatory networks are one of the major cellular infrastructures that give rise to defined cellular functions. My research focuses on the analysis, construction and utilization of these networks in bacteria for functionality programming. In this talk, I will report our recent efforts in engineering lactic acid bacteria for potential biomedical applications, such as bacteriocin overproduction, as well as in developing synthetic bacterial consortia to understand the structure and dynamics of microbial communities.

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Abstract, 4/4/2016
The Biomedical Engineer at the Bedside: How Engineers have improved the Lives of Neurology Patients
Elizabeth Felton, M.D., PhD

Advances in neuroengineering have helped us understand how to interface with and manipulate the nervous system. However, since much of the research is laboratory based, it can be easy for investigators to lose the forest for the trees. Meaning that one can get so caught up in the minutia of research that it can be difficult to see how and when patients with neurological disorders would actually reap any benefit from the project. In light of this, I will present several examples of how advances in neuroengineering have directly improved, and in some cases lengthened, the lives of neurology patients, specifically those with epilepsy.

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Abstract, 4/11/2016
Engineered Lipid Vesicles as Carriers of Therapeutics for Selective Treatment of Untargetable Cancers

Stravroula Sofou, PhD

We use model lipid membranes in the form of vesicles to study pH-controlled lateral lipid phase separation processes and their effect on altering the vesicles’ surface topography and functionality, the vesicles’ membrane permeability and fusogenicity. We design and study such pH-dependent processes on model functionalized lipid bilayers in the form of giant and of small unilamellar vesicles. Giant lipid vesicles are used as templates to study the morphology, reversibility, and kinetics of formation and growth of phase separated lipid domains. Integration of these processes on nanometer-sized lipid vesicles used as drug delivery carriers may precisely control their interactions with diseased cells increasing therapeutic efficacy while minimizing toxicities.

Two examples of improving the therapeutic potential in liposomal chemotherapy and alpha-particle radiotherapy will be presented: first, the description and demonstration of the efficacy of vesicles with ‘sticky patches’. These vesicles introduce new binding geometries with targeted receptors, and enable selective targeting and effective killing of cancer cells currently reported as untargetable by today’s reported nanoparticles; and second, the description of highly diffusing forms of lethal agents delivered and released within the tumor interstitium, and the demonstration of using this approach to effectively address the low and heterogeneous drug distributions in solid tumors that currently limit the therapeutic efficacy of these agents.

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Abstract, 4/18/2016
Osteoarthritis: A Multiscale Mechanics Perspective

Corrine Henak, PhD

Osteoarthritis (OA), characterized by damage and loss of articular cartilage, is a mechanically-mediated disease with a large economic burden and a negative impact on patients’ quality of life. Abnormal mechanical loading that initiates and advances OA has been quantified at the joint scale. However, OA begins at the tissue scale with microdamage such as fibrillation of the articular surface. Therefore, to fully understand OA, tissue scale mechanics that cause microdamage must be established. This presentation will focus on research quantifying abnormal cartilage mechanics that cause OA across length scales and across joints, with the long-term aim of accurately predicting joint damage and remodeling on a subject-specific basis.

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Abstract, 4/25/2016
Midwest Graduate Student Speaker Exchange
Development of Novel Nanomedicines for Treatment of Primary and Metastatic Prostate Cancer
Omer Aydin

My research focuses on development of novel therapeutic approaches for focal ablation of primary prostate cancer and targeted chemotherapeutics of metastatic lesion in bone. The success of focal prostate cancer therapy depends on the ability to selectively ablate cancer lesions, which is the objective of my research. Under this section I will discuss the engineered perfluorocarbon loaded-nanodroplets (NDs) that rapidly expand when exposed to therapeutic ultrasound before they collapse, which proved to mechanically fractionate neighboring cells with high precision in 3D cancer model. The second objective of my research focuses on targeting metastatic prostate cancer lesions in bone. Specifically, the developed polymeric “smart” particle is conjugated with specific peptide sequence called the pVTK or bisphosphonates(BP) to target actively mineralizing bone surfaces in prostate cancer lesions. I utilize pVTK/BP-particles to deliver a high dose of chemotherapeutic agents selectively to metastatic cancer cells without affecting neighboring tissues, which will us to eradicate the tumor lesion without exhibiting non-specific toxicity to healthy tissues. Successful development of these pVTK/BP-particles will provide a platform technology that can be used for delivery of combination therapies for treatment of prostate cancer, which will address a critical unmet need in the clinic.

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