Jun 16, 2024  
Rensselaer Catalog 2008-2009 
Rensselaer Catalog 2008-2009 [Archived Catalog]

Biomedical Engineering

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Department Head: Natacha DePaola

Department Home Page:

Biomedical engineers are typically involved in research and design. They discover new knowledge that they apply to designing new engineering devices and systems for the fields of medicine and biology. Among the devices that biomedical engineering (BMED) has produced are noninvasive body imaging systems, critical-care monitoring instruments used in intensive care units, and a wide spectrum of implants, such as artificial joints, oral implants, and vascular grafts, all of which are used to replace diseased tissues. With new discoveries related to stem cells, genomics, and proteomics, BME is increasingly involved in cellular and molecular biology for basic research and design of new devices and technologies. Biomedical engineers are helping to advance the new field of tissue engineering. In this capacity, they use basic knowledge about the cellular/molecular processes of tissue regeneration to help design replacement tissues and organs. At Rensselaer, a key focus is functional tissue engineering, which encompasses the biology and engineering necessary to understand, characterize, synthesize, and shape the required mechanical and functional behavior of living tissues.

Founded upon a strong engineering base, the BMED curriculum combines significant life science content with courses that bring engineering solutions to medical needs. BMED students may select from a variety of concentrations to develop knowledge and skills in key areas of biomedical engineering including biomechanics, biomaterials, cell and tissue engineering, implant design, bioimaging, instrumentation, and computational analysis and modeling of biological systems.

Research Innovations and Initiatives

Biophotonics deals with the interaction between photons and biological matter. It offers great hope for early detection of diseases and for new modalities of light-guided and light-activated therapies. Continuing research includes (1) development of new imaging optical system for pre-clinical and clinical applications; (2) development of innovative computational methods for 3-D visualization and quantification of optical parameters in tissues.

Cell and Tissue Engineering
Mammalian cell cultures are used to study systems of biomedical interest at the cell and molecular level. Experimental projects in progress include (1) investigations of the mechanisms of osteoblast interactions with orthopedic/dental implant materials; (2) structure and biochemistry of the cell/biomaterial interface; (3) effects of mechanical stresses on cellular function, morphology, and structure; (4) the development of engineering tissues to repair or replace damaged tissues including the mechanistic understanding of neural injury and repair. Theoretical approaches are used in modeling proliferation of anchorage-dependent, contact-inhibited cells, and in quantifying morphological responses of cells to mechanical forces.

Computational Bioengineering
The level of complexity inherent in the study of human systems such as musculoskeletal or cardiovascular systems frequently dictates the need for numerical solution methods. Rensselaer is developing and applying high-performance computational methods to the study of diathrodial joint mechanics, cardiovascular mechanics, dental mechanics, and imaging. Projects involving the development of computational methods for bioengineering applications are done in collaboration with Rensselaer’s Scientific Computation Research Center, as well as the Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems (CenSISS).

Implantable Sensors
Ongoing research includes the design, packaging and integration of novel sensors into chronic implants to facilitate direct experimental measurement of physical parameters in vivo in (1) oral implants; (2) fracture fixation devices; and (3) spinal implants.

Orthopaedic Engineering
In an aging individual, musculoskeletal well-being is a key factor that contributes towards quality of life. Continuing research includes cellular and tissue-level approaches to (1) identifying changes in the biological and mechanical characteristics of skeletal tissues with emphasis on aging and osteoporosis; (2) developing microenvironments conducive to regeneration of lost or damaged bone matrix; (3) characterizing the mechanisms that cause degeneration of the intervertebral disc in response to loading; and (4) understanding the biomechanical effects of spine implants and tissue substitutes. Current research areas include biology and mechanics of hard tissue, cellular control of tissue growth and development, mechanobiology of skeletal tissue regeneration, fatigue fractures of long bones, mechanism of sclerosis of subchondral bone, and biomechanics of fracture fixation.

The Tissue Interface

In oral/maxillofacial surgery, orthopedic surgery, and tissue engineering, events at the bone-implant interface ultimately determine clinical implant performance. All such interfaces transmit loads, so interfacial biomechanics and biomaterials become extremely relevant. Continuing projects include (1) characterization of inplant biomechanics; and (2) assessment of bone biology at loaded verses unloaded bone-implant interfaces. New aspects of these projects include digital image-based strain analysis of interfaces and cellular/molecular-level approaches to understand interfacial bone healing and remodeling under the influence of interfacial biomechanics and biomaterials.

Collaborative Institutions
Biomedical engineering research at Rensselaer involves three schools within the Institute and collaborations with Albany Medical College; Stanford University; University of Missouri at Kansas City Dental School; Cleveland Clinic; Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, NY; Massachusetts General Hospital; Boston University; Union College; Benet Laboratories; University of Rochester Medical Center; Georgetown University Medical Center; University of Montreal; Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, TX; Mayo Clinic; Center for Tissue Integrated Reconstruction; N.Y. University School of Dentistry, New York, NY;  Indiana University; Purdue University; The State University of New York at Stony Brook; Beth Israel Hospital; Harvard University; University of California at Santa Barbara; Pennsylvania State University; Hospital Edourd Harriot, Lyon France; Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur; The McCaig Centre for Joint Injury and Arthritis Research, University of Calgary, Canada.


Faculty *


Brunski, J.B.—Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania); dental biomechanics and implants, bone healing at interfaces, biomaterials.

DePaola, N.
—Ph.D. (MIT-Harvard Medical School); biofluid mechanics, cellular bioengineering (Department Head).

Roysam, B.
—D.Sc. (Washington University); electrical, computer, and systems engineering; intelligent imaging at low SNR; parallel computation; biomedical applications.

Spilker, R.L.—Sc.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); computational mechanics and biomechanics.

VonMaltzahn, W.W.—Ph.D. (University of Hannover, Germany) bioinstrumentation, physiological measurements and modeling.

Xu, G.X.—Ph.D. (Texas A&M University); environmental health physics, health and medical physics, Monte Carlo simulations, anatomical modeling, biomedical use of radiation.

Associate Professors

Jansen, K. —Ph.D. (Stanford University); computational mechanics, parallel computing, computational fluid dynamics.

Plopper, G.—Ph.D. (Harvard University Medical School); extracellular matrix and tissue engineering.

Vashishth, D.—Ph.D. (University of London, UK); orthopedics biomechanics, hard tissue biology (aging and osteoporosis), sports medicine (stress fractures and running injuries), skeletal tissue regeneration.

Yacizi, B.—Ph.D. (Purdue University); inverse problems in biomedical imaging, tomography, diffuse optical tomography, biomedical optics, free space optical communications, ultrasonics, statistical pattern recognition theory and application.

Assistant Professors 

Cooper Jr., J.A.-Ph.D. (Drexel University); biomaterials; cell and tissue engineering; orthopedics; stem cell biology; materials fabrication; bioimaging; bioreactors.

Corr, D.Ph.D. (University of Wisconsin); wound healing; musculoskeletal soft tissue mechanics, injury and modeling; skeletal muscle; tissue engineering (collagenous soft tissue).

Dai, G. -Ph.D.  (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); biofluid mechanics, cell and tissue engineering, vascular biology.

Damljanovic, V. - Ph.D. (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign); cellular biomechanics, cell mechanotransduction, multi-scale biomechanics, tissue engineering.

Intes, X.Ph.D. (Universite de Bretagne Occidentale – France); biophotonics, biomedical instrumentation, biomedical imaging.

Ledet, E. —Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); in vivo sensor development, degenerative diseases of the spine, biomechanics of fracture fixation.

Stegemann, J.P.—Ph.D. (Georgia Institute of Technology); cell and tissue engineering, vascular biology, extracellular matrix biology.

Thompson, D.M.
—Ph.D. (Rutgers University); tissue engineering (neural), neural cell and tissue engineering, neural biology, MEMS/microfluidics.

Research Professor

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

Research Assistant Professor

Mehta, S. —Ph.D. (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center); biotechnology management and entrepreneurship.

Affiliated Faculty

Cheney, M. —Ph.D. (Indiana University); professor of mathematical sciences; applied mathematics, differential equations, mathematical computed tomography.

Isaacson, D.
—Ph.D. (New York University); professor of mathematics and computer science; electric current computed tomography.

Adjunct Faculty

Vincent, P.A.Ph.D. (Albany Medical College); regulation of endothelial cell function by adherens junctions, vascular biology; Professor and Associate Director and Graduate Director – The Center for Cardiovascular Science, Albany Medical College.

Uhl, R. - M.D. (Jefferson Medical College); hand and upper extremity surgery, trauma surgery; education methods, fracture fixation, fracture healing; Orthopaedic Residency Program Director - Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Albany Medical College.

Emeritus Faculty

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

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.

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 2008 Board of Trustees meeting.

Undergraduate Programs

Objectives of the Undergraduate Curriculum in Biomedical Engineering

Graduates of the Department of Biomedical Engineering will:

  • Be engaged in professional practice or be enrolled in high quality advanced academic or industrial training programs. 
  • Function in a technically competent manner to address challenges in biomedical engineering, medicine and biology. 
  • Contribute to and lead multidisciplinary teams in industrial, academic, and clinical environments. 
  • Be engaged in the design of biomedical products, processes, and systems within the context of ethical, societal, and environmental factors. 
  • Be engaged in life long learning that expands their knowledge and appreciation of global contemporary professional issues and practices. 

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.

Graduate Programs

The department offers programs leading to M.S., D.Eng., and Ph.D. degrees. Persons seeking admission to any of these graduate degree programs in biomedical engineering should have their Graduate Record Examination (GRE) aptitude test scores sent to the Graduate Admissions Office. Applicants who cannot take the test should attach an explanation to the application. Submission of the GRE advanced test scores is also recommended. For further information on the GREs, write to Graduate Record Examinations, Box 955, Princeton, NJ 08541.

Doctoral Programs

Matriculation into the doctoral program is based upon prior demonstration of a high level of academic achievement in graduate and/or undergraduate work. Advanced study and research are conducted under the guidance of a faculty member of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and an interdisciplinary committee. In order for a course to count towards the requirements, students must attain a B (grade) or higher.

A minimum of 30 credits in graduate course work (6000 level) are required in addition to the residency and thesis requirements. Students may need to take additional courses at the 4000 level to prepare for graduate level coursework. These requirements are formalized in a Plan of Study that is prepared in consultation with the student’s research adviser and doctoral committee.

The minimum course work requirements are distributed as follows:


Credit hours


Advanced Mathematics or Statistics                                3-4             (1 course) 


Advanced Life Sciences                                                 6-8             (2 courses)
(Advanced Biology or Advanced Physiology) 

Engineering depth courses                                               18              (5-6 courses)
(minimum of 3 courses should have the prefix BMED)

Advanced laboratory techniques                                      3-4             (1 course)



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 website at www.bme.rpi.edu.

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