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Bioengineering Program Starts

By Kevin S. Subramanya
Staff Reporter

Dean of Engineering Joel Moses PhD '67 has announced the formation of the Program in Biomedical Engineering which will coordinate research activities in biomedical engineering between MIT, Harvard, and various Boston hospitals.

The program was devised by MIT faculty from the School of Engineering and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and will be based at MIT.

"Most departments in the School of Engineering are involved in biomedical engineering research on a variety of levels," Moses said in Tech Talk yesterday. "There is a need to coordinate these efforts for maximum impact on this rapidly growing field."

"Given the active role of MIT in the Boston biomedical community and the extensive research resources of this environment, MIT is in a unique position to provide leadership on a national level at a time when the health-care needs of our society are under scrutiny," Moses told Tech Talk.

Professor of Mechanical Engineering Roger D. Kamm '77 and HST Professor Ernest G. Cravalho will be the first co-directors of the new program.

"The main purpose of this new program is to help facilitate collaboration among researchers from various fields of biomedical engineering," Kamm said.

"To complement HST involvement, this new program will encourage further collaboration among many teaching hospitals such as the [Massachusetts General Hospital], Brigham and Women's Hospital, Children's Hospital, and the VA Medical Center," Kamm continued.

The program is designed to facilitate collaboration between engineers and biologists and doctors, Tamm said.

Faculty and students who are interested in the intersection of medicine and engineering will get an opportunity to strengthen their interests, Kamm said, and research opportunities in biomedical engineering at MIT will be enhanced.

Areas of investigation that could gain from this program include: biomedical imaging, application of computational methods to medicine, tissue engineering, and the use of expert systems in patient care and monitoring, Kamm said.

Cravlho said that not only research offerings but course offerings in biomedical engineering is expected to increase as a result of the program.

"I think it's a great idea," said Prashant Sinha '95, an electrical engineering and computer science student. "Hopefully this new program will also involve undergraduates who are interested in this aspect of engineering especially since many students in electrical engineering do the biology option," he said.

Members of the steering committee that will assist Kamm and Cravalho include Professor of Mechanical Engineering Neville J. Hogan PhD '77, HST Professor Richard J. Cohen PhD '76, Professor of Chemical Engineering Robert S. Langer Jr. ScD '74, and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Alan J. Grodzinsky '69.

The biomedical engineering program is expecting to hold a symposium on New Technologies in Health Care in 1994 to foster links with commercial firms in the health care industry.