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    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  Sep 26, 2017
Rensselaer Catalog 2017-2018

Biomedical Engineering

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Department Head: Juergen Hahn

Department Home Page:

Biomedical engineers work with cutting-edge technologies to tackle grand challenges related to the application of engineering principles to human physiology. They advance human health, engineer better medicines, and create the tools of innovation and scientific discovery by designing solutions to problems at the interface of biology, medicine, and engineering.

From the wheelchair that helps people stay mobile to the pain-relievers in their medicine cabinets to the x-ray that tells them whether they can play in the next big game, the products developed by biomedical engineers fit seamlessly into humans’ everyday modern lives. Some biomedical engineers design innovative tools and devices (such as prosthetics and imaging machines) to aid medical care, while others work to improve the processes of health care delivery (through new drug therapies, for example). Biomedical engineers also study signals generated by organs such as the heart and brain in order to understand how the body functions and how biological systems work. Many build artificial organs, limbs, and valves to replace failing tissues. Biomedical engineers are involved in rehabilitation by improving the designs of therapeutic devices to increase performance.

Whether designing and evaluating new technologies, developing new methods of patient care, or studying biological processes, biomedical engineers are focused on improving the quality of people’s lives.

At Rensselaer, the BME curriculum combines significant life science content with engineering and basic science courses. Undergraduate BME students can select one of three offered concentrations (biomaterials, biomechanics, bioimaging/instrumentation) and also have the option of combining these with a pre-med or a management minor as well as the standard BME curriculum. Graduate studies include a significant research component under the direction of a faculty supervisor.

Research Innovations and Initiatives

Biomolecular Science and Engineering

Biomolecular science is one area in the life sciences which focuses on the understanding of cellular processes at the molecular level and modifications of extracellular matrix (ECM). Developing an understanding and using this knowledge for manipulating cell and matrix processes in order to predict, prevent or ameliorate medical conditions are key components of biomolecular science and engineering. Research in biomolecular science deals with applications including drug development and delivery, proteomics, and tissue engineering.

Biomedical Imaging
Biomedical imaging produces internal images of patients, animals or tissue samples for basic research, preclinical and clinical applications. The focuses are on x-ray and optical tomographic imaging, multi-modality techniques, and their utilities of fundamental, translational and healthcare significance. Research and training involve the entire process from innovation, instrumentation, to validation for real-world impact. Close collaborative ties have been formed with medical schools, and as have strong academic-industrial partnerships such as with the GE Global Research Center.

Musculoskeletal Engineering
The musculoskeletal well-being of aging individuals is a key factor affecting quality of life. As medical advances continue to extend people’s lifespans, the need for musculoskeletal engineering becomes paramount. In response to this critical need, Rensselaer faculty are investigating, modeling and/or regenerating bone, cartilage, intervertebral discs, muscle, tendon, ligament and skin. This program promotes musculoskeletal research and discovery from molecules to mice to humans. We bring together and prepare future musculoskeletal engineers with expertise in multiscale biomechanics, biomaterials, cell and tissue engineering, in vivo matrix injury models, stem cells and regenerative medicine, and proteomics.

Neural Engineering
Injuries and disease to the nervous system affect all age groups and cost billions of dollars every year in medical expenses and reduced quality of life. Using neurological engineering – a combination of neuroscience and engineering – faculty and students are developing new approaches to address the functional repair of both large-gap peripheral nerve and spinal cord injuries. This program prepares engineers with training in the areas of cell and tissue engineering, molecular control of neurite guidance, complex multi-cellular models of injury and repair, proteomics, neural stem cells and rational biomaterial design.

Systems Biology and Biocomputation
Systems biology is the coordinated study of biological systems, at the cellular, organ, or whole body level, which aims at achieving a systems-level understanding of biological processes. Systems biology lies at the interface of engineering, computer science, and molecular/cell biology and involves sophisticated computational and high-throughput experimental approaches. One of the key outcomes of systems biology is the development of biomedical models describing the system. These models can be used to test hypotheses in silico, or to design drug targets or intervention strategies.

Vascular Engineering
Vascular disease is the leading cause of heart attack and stroke worldwide. Rensselaer researchers are dedicated to development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic agents needed to alleviate the pain and suffering associated with these diseases. Faculty and their students are integrating bioengineering tools with vascular biology to understand the pathophysiological mechanisms of vascular disease, and they are developing methods to guide blood vessel regeneration. Researchers apply multidisciplinary approaches from biomechanics, biomaterials, molecular imaging, cell and tissue engineering to study vascular development and disease at the molecular, cellular, and organ levels.

Faculty *


Cramer, S.—Ph.D. (Yale University); expert in the fields of chromatographic bioprocessing and separation science (Joint with Materials Engineering).

De, S.—Ph.D. (Jadavpur University, India); computational mechanics, multiscale computations, haptics, soft  tissue mechanics, virtual reality-based surgical simulations and computer aided interventional planning. (Joint with Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering).

Dordick, J.—Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); enabling the efficient and selective interaction of biomolecules with synthetic nanoscale building blocks to generate functional assemblies (Joint with Chemical and Biological Engineering).

Dunn, S.—Ph.D. (University of Maryland and Free University of Amsterdam, Netherlands); Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education.

Gross, R.—Ph.D.  (Polytechnic University) Chair, Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering (Joint with Chemistry and Chemical Biology).

Hahn. J.—Ph.D.  (University of Texas at Austin) systems biology, modeling and control of complex dynamic systems, sensitivity analysis of nonlinear and uncertain systems, model reduction (Department Head).

Hahn, M.—Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) scaffold-directed mesenchymal stem cell differentiation; vascular tissue engineering; osteochondral regeneration; vocal fold tissue engineering.

Intes, X.Ph.D. (Universite de Bretagne Occidentale – France); biophotonics and biomedical instrumentation. Research is on functional imaging of the breast and brain, fusion with other modalities, and fluorescence molecular imaging.

Linhardt, R.—Ph.D. (The Johns Hopkins University); Constellation Chair, Professor. (Joint with Chemistry and Chemical Biology).

Vashishth, D.—Ph.D. (University of London, UK); in vitro/in vivo model systems to investigate modifications of bone matrix proteins and their relationships to fracture and bone biology.

Wang, G.—Ph.D. (State University of New York at Buffalo) Biomedical imaging, x-ray computed tomography, optical molecular tomography, omni-tomography, other inverse problems, and informetrics.

Xu, G.X.—Ph.D. (Texas A&M University); Multiscale human computing applications on radiation modeling. (Joint with Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering).

Yacizi, B.—Ph.D. (Purdue University); Statistical signal and image processing pattern recognition, inverse problems in medical imaging. (Joint with Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering).

Associate Professors

Corr, D.Ph.D. (University of Wisconsin); wound healing and biomechanics in orthopaedic soft tissue, muscle mechanics and modeling and cell-based tissue engineering.

Gilbert, R.Ph.D.(University of Michigan); research focus shifted towards the development of novel biomaterial constructs for tissue repair.

Ledet, E.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); complex in vitro and in vivo models to define the role of biomechanics in degenerative diseases of the musculoskeletal system.

Swank, D.—Ph.D.  (University of Pennsylvania); muscle physiology, motor protein biophysics, muscle and heart diseases. The major tools used include muscle mechanical analysis and transgenic organisms. (Joint with Biology).

Thompson, D.M.—Ph.D. (Rutgers University); quantitative and mechanistic examination of the microenvironment of the nervous system to promote functional repair following spinal cord and/or large-gap peripheral nerve injury.

Wan, Q.—Ph.D. (Columbia University); cell chirality; BioMEMS; stem cell mechano-biology; functional tissue engineering; cartilage biomechanics and bioimaging.

Assistant Professor

Chan, D.—Ph.D. (Purdue University); application of imaging technologies to biomedical studies of joints and intervertable discs.

Yan, P.—Ph.D. (National University of Singapore); deep Learning (applied to Biomedical Imaging).

Professor of Practice

Kruger, U.—Ph.D. (University of Manchester, UK).


Agarwal, M.—Ph.D. (N.Y.U. School of Engineering).

Mohamed, H.—Ph.D. (University of Minnesota).

Wang, X.—Ph.D. (University of Manchester, U.K.).

Research Faculty

Cong, W.—Ph.D. (Beijing Univ. of Science and Technology - China); optical imaging.

Emeritus Faculty

Bizios, R.—Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); cellular bioengineering, cell/biomaterial interactions, biomaterials.

Newell, J.C.—Ph.D. (Albany Medical College); cardiopulmonary physiology, systems modeling, impedance imaging.

Ostrander, L.E.—Ph.D. (University of Rochester); information processing, biomedical signal analysis, human factors in medical equipment design.

Roy, R.J.—M.D. (Albany Medical College), D.Eng.Sci. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); systems physiology, digital signal processing, pattern recognition.

von Maltzahn, W.—Ph.D. (University of Hannover, Germany) serving as Associate Vice President for Research.

Zelman, A.—Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley); membrane transport phenomena, food processing.

* Departmental faculty listings are accurate as of the date generated for inclusion in this catalog. For the most up-to-date listing of faculty positions, including end-of-year promotions, please refer to the Faculty Roster section of this catalog, which is current as of the May 2017 Board of Trustees meeting.

Undergraduate Programs

Biomedical Engineering B.S., B.S. with Minor in Management, B.S. Premed Option
Concentrations: Biomechanics, Biomaterials, and Bioimaging/Instrumentation

Department Mission

To educate the biomedical engineering leaders of tomorrow who will apply fundamental engineering principles to the responsible solution of problems in biology and medicine, to contribute to human disease management, and to bring engineering innovation and technology to the clinic while creating knowledge and enhancing global prosperity.

Outcomes of the Undergraduate Curriculum
Students who successfully complete this program will be able to demonstrate:

  • an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering.
  • an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data.
  • an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.
  • an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams.
  • an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems.
  • an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility.
  • an ability to communicate effectively.
  • the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.
  • a recognition of the need for and an ability to engage in lifelong learning.
  • a knowledge of contemporary issues.
  • an ability to use techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.

Objectives of the Undergraduate Curriculum

Graduates of the Biomedical Engineering Program will within five years of graduation:

  • be engaged in professional practice in industry, academia, or government related to biomedical engineering; and/or
  • have enrolled in an academic program pursuing a graduate, medical, law, business, or other professional post-graduate degree.

Students may achieve these objectives through completion of the baccalaureate program leading to the B.S. degree. To ensure selection of the appropriate concentration and courses to meet individual interests and goals, students should consult their academic adviser as early as possible. The Biomedical Engineering Program at Rensselaer is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET,

Graduate Degree Programs

Biomedical Engineering M.Eng., M.S., Ph.D.

The department offers programs leading to Master (M.S./M.Eng.) and Ph.D. degrees, each of which is tailored to fulfill the varying educational needs of its graduate students. Both programs offer the students a significant amount of additional breadth and depth over a B.S. degree. The coursework requirements for a Ph.D. and a Master’s degree are similar, but the Ph.D. program involves a substantially larger amount of research than the M.S./M.Eng. program.

Master’s degrees commonly require 1-1.5 years to complete while students usually spend four to five years in the Ph.D. program. It is not required to have completed a Master’s degree prior to obtaining a Ph.D. Admissions requirements are the same for all graduate programs.

Course Descriptions

Courses directly related to all Biomedical Engineering curricula are described in the Course Description section of this catalog under the department codes BMED, CHME, ECSE, MTLE, and MANE. Elective courses can be chosen from a recommended list of BME courses and other engineering and/or science courses at Rensselaer in consultation with the adviser. For a detailed listing of approved courses in advanced mathematics, statistics, life sciences, laboratory techniques, and engineering depth, see the BMED Web site at


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