Jul 16, 2024  
Rensselaer Catalog 2023-2024 
Rensselaer Catalog 2023-2024 [Archived Catalog]

Biomedical Engineering

Department Head: Juergen Hahn

Department Home Page: http://bme.rpi.edu

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 five offered specializations (biomaterials, biomechanics, biomedical data science, bioimaging, medical devices) and also have the option of combining these with a pre-med, a management minor, or a data science 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

Biofabrication and Biomanufacturing
Biofabrication explores the use of traditional and novel material fabrication and processing techniques (e.g., cellular bioprinting, electrospinning, 3D printing) to create scaffolds and engineered constructs for advanced biologic models, tissues, and organs, for medical and non-medical biologic applications. The great flexibility of biofabrication approaches make them particularly attractive for engineering complex tissues, tissue surrogates, or multi-tissue systems, with a variety of applications in areas such as tissue engineering and in vitro diagnostics. In biomanufacturing, biologic systems are utilized to produce products, such as biomolecules and biomaterials, of commercial or clinical importance. Biomanufacturing research typically explores developing products for food and drug applications, as well as novel biologic-based methods for industrial manufacturing.

Biomedical Imaging and Image Analytic
Biomedical imaging produces internal images of patients, animals or tissue samples for basic research, preclinical and clinical applications. Biomedical imaging at RPI focus on cutting-edge x-ray, optical tomographic imaging, multi-modality imaging, image formation and analysis as well as artificial intelligence/machine learning methods. Research and training involve the entire process from innovation, instrumentation, to validation for real-world applications. Close collaborative ties have been formed with leading medical schools, and with industrial partners such as the GE Global Research Center, enabling translational impact.

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. 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.

Musculoskeletal Biomechanics and Mechanobiology
The musculoskeletal well-being of aging individuals is a key factor affecting quality of life. As medical advances continue to extend people’s lifespans, diseases of the musculoskeletal system are a significant threat to independence and lifestyle. Thus, a better understanding of the mechanobiology and biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system are key for the development of better therapeutic approaches, engineered tissues, and medical devices which target degenerated or injured tissues. 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 tissues to animals to humans. It brings together and prepares future biomedical engineers with expertise in multiscale biomechanics, biomaterials, cell and tissue engineering, in vivo models, stem cells and regenerative medicine, and proteomics.

Systems Biology and Health Care Analytics
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 which can lead to precision medicine approaches to tailor treatments to individuals. Health care analytics makes use of similar Big Data approaches as systems biology, but the focus is on extracting knowledge about diseases and intervention strategies from extremely large data sets such as those maintained by hospitals and health care providers.

Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
Tissue engineering combines cells, bioactive components, and/or biomaterials with the primary goal of regenerating diseased or damaged tissues. A secondary area of this diverse field includes generating in vitro tissue models of diseases toward development and screening of new therapeutic interventions. From a tissue repair perspective, tissue engineering at Rensselaer focuses on cartilage/bone repair and brain and spinal cord regeneration while musculoskeletal and neurodegenerative diseases are the focus from a disease model perspective.

Faculty *


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

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

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

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.

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).

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.

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

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.


Associate Professors

Palermo, E - Ph.D. (University of Michigan); (Joint with Materials Science and Engineering)

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.

Yan, P.—Ph.D. (National University of Singapore); deep learning (applied to biomedical imaging).


Assistant Professor

Blaber, E. - Ph.D. (University of New South Wales, Australia); investigation of stem cell-based tissue regeneration under altered gravitational loads.


Professor of Practice

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


Senior Lecturers

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

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

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



Lee, G - Ph.D. (Baylor University).

Maldonado Martinez, N - Ph.D. (City College of New York)


Research Faculty

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


Emeritus Faculty

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

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

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

von Maltzahn, W.—Ph.D. (University of Hannover, Germany) served 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 2023 Board of Trustees meeting.

Undergraduate Programs

Biomedical Engineering B.S., B.S. with Minor in Management, B.S. with Data Science Minor, B.S. Premed Option

Specialization Areas:  Biomaterials, Biomechanics, Biomedical Data Science, Bioimaging, Medical Devices


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 identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics.
  • an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors.
  • an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences.
  • an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts.
  • an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives.
  •  an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions.
  • an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.

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, http://www.abet.org.

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, ENGR, 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 bme.rpi.edu/.