Pitt | Swanson Engineering

The Department of Bioengineering combines hands-on experience with the solid fundamentals that students need to advance themselves in research, medicine, and industry. The Department has a long-standing and unique relationship with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and other academic departments at the University of Pittsburgh as well as neighboring Carnegie Mellon University. Our faculty are shared with these organizations, offering our graduate and undergraduate students access to state-of-the-art facilities and a wide array of research opportunities. We currently have 190 graduate students who are advised by some 100 different faculty advisers, pursuing graduate research across 17 Departments and five Schools. Our undergraduate class-size of approximately 50 students per year ensures close student-faculty interactions in the classroom and the laboratory.

The main engineering building is located next to the Medical Center in Oakland, an elegant university neighborhood with museums, parks, and great restaurants. Beautiful new facilities have also been built, a short shuttle ride from the main campus, along the Monongahela River, replacing the steel mills that once were there. Our department is growing rapidly, both in numbers of students and faculty, and in the funding and diversity of our research. The Pittsburgh bioengineering community is a vibrant and stimulating alliance of diverse components for which our department forms an essential and central connection.

Nov
17
2017

Undergraduate Study Abroad Student Profile: Getting SERIUS in Singapore

Bioengineering, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (November 17, 2017) - Jake Meadows, Hannah Liu, and Mazin Rahman are bioengineering juniors who spent eight weeks in Singapore with the Summer Engineering Research Internship for U.S. Students (SERIUS) program. SERIUS selects students from US partner institutions to participate in internships at the National University of Singapore (NUS) engineering labs. Jake and Hannah engaged in research with Dr. Hongliang Ren in the Medical Mechatronics Laboratory. The pair were given flexibility with their projects, which allowed them to explore this area of bioengineering. Jake worked on a surgical robotics project titled “Preliminary Development Of A Low-Cost Flexible Endoscope For Robotic Minimally Invasive Nasopharyngoscopy.” Hannah worked on a different project in Dr. Ren’s lab, “Four-Point Fortune-Teller-Inspired Origami Grasper for Increased Dexterity and Less Tissue Damage in Minimally Invasive Surgery.” Mazin’s research was in the Biofluid Mechanics Lab with with Dr. Hwa Liang Leo . He worked with one of Dr. Leo’s graduate students on “Hemodynamic Investigation of Tricuspid Valvular Therapies in Treating Functional Tricuspid Regurgitation.” Jake, Hannah, and Mazin discuss their experience in Singapore: What was your favorite thing about living in Singapore? The front entrance of the "Ordination Hall" at Wat Arun, a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Thailand. Jake: “Definitely the food and the people.  Singapore is an incredibly diverse country, consisting of large Chinese, Malay, and Indian populations.  Everyone we met was friendly and excited to share the culture with us -- especially in the form of food.”  Hannah: “Easy access to anything you wanted to do. The MRT (public transportation) was super easy to navigate, and we could go virtually anywhere in Singapore like Sentosa beach, Pulau Ubin (biking island), Little India, Chinatown, etc. Changi Airport is also a great hub, and you can catch an hour-two hour flight to other countries nearby.”Mazin: “The ease in which someone from any culture/religion can stay in Singapore. As Jake said, Singapore is a very diverse country with a variety of cultures and religions. As a Muslim, living in Singapore was honestly easier to live in than in the U.S. due to the large population of Singaporean Muslims, thus making it easier on religious requirements especially during the holy month of Ramadan. Also, the food!”How did you enjoy your research project? Hannah at Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) in Bangkok, Thailand. Jake: “My day-to-day was mostly rapid prototyping, testing out early-stage design via Solidworks simulations and just trying things out in the workshop. My project was extraordinarily independent, and I could take it any direction I wanted. This was daunting, but also extremely liberating. This independence gave me an opportunity to really explore the research topic and understand this area of bioengineering.”Hannah: “It was definitely outside of my comfort zone since I’m concentrating in cellular engineering while this project was more “medical product-focused.” Jake and I sat across from each other every day and helped each other along whenever we were stuck and needed help prototyping our designs. From talking to other students in the same program and from my own experience, the research project was very “you-driven.” Basically, the lab provided us with resources, and we could do anything we saw fit in our project - lots of flexibility and hands-on experience.”Mazin: “This was in fact my first research experience, and I enjoyed it tremendously. As opposed to most other students, who were given their own research project, the project I worked on was an ongoing project of a PhD student. This was very helpful in that she would help us and give us advice and direction, while still allowing enough freedom for us to be able to design our own solutions and solve our own problems.”Do you have any advice for those looking to study in Singapore? The group on the Mekong Delta outside of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Jake: “Definitely apply! There are also semester-long programs available at two different universities in Singapore, NUS and NTU, that would be perfect for someone looking to study in Singapore and experience South East Asian culture.”Hannah: “Jake, Mazin and I all agree that this is the best experience of our adult lives. It definitely changed me as a person and also affirmed my interest in cellular engineering as opposed to medical product, signals, etc. APPLY APPLY APPLY!! The application really is not difficult at all, and you won’t regret it!”Mazin: “Definitely apply to this program! If you are interested in doing any study abroad, this is a great opportunity. The application is not a lot of work and since the application pool is limited to only a few engineering schools, I believe it is easier to get into than other study abroad programs that are open to all students. Not only was the research awesome, but we had a lot of fun exploring other parts of Southeast Asia. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you should not pass up.”For more information about the SERIUS program, visit their website: https://www.eng.nus.edu.sg/exchange-students/serius/. To apply through Pitt, please visit: http://www.abroad.pitt.edu/engresearchsingapore.  The application deadline is January 28, 2018.

Nov
15
2017

Bioengineering Department Participates in BMES Annual Meeting

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (November 15, 2017)…This past October, Pitt Bioengineering students joined their peers at the 2017 Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Annual Meeting.More than 35 undergraduate and eight graduate students participated at this year’s conference in Phoenix, Arizona. They presented in both the platform sessions and poster sessions.The students were joined by Pitt Bioengineering faculty members, including Arash Mahboobin, assistant professor, who said, “The event was well attended, and I was very encouraged by the engineering education topics presented at the conference. Our undergraduate students represented the department very well. I am extremely proud of their achievements and will certainly watch their careers develop with great interest and high expectation.”Part of the event included a two-part presentation from the 2017 Young Innovators of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (CMBE). CMBE publishes a special issue, which highlights assistant professors from across the country who are doing innovative bioengineering research. Shilpa Sant, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, with a secondary appointment in bioengineering, was one of eleven awardees. She presented her group’s work titled “Shape-specific Nanoceria Mitigate Oxidative Stress-induced Calcification in Primary Human Valvular Interstitial Cell Culture.” Tyler Bray and Christine Heisler are bioengineering juniors who presented at the meeting. “The BMES Conference in Phoenix was a fantastic place to learn and network. It’s a great experience to be around so many talented and accomplished individuals while seeing the future of the bioengineering field unfold,” Mr. Bray said. It was very rewarding opportunity to present my research and have meaningful conversations with people who have similar interests. The trip to Phoenix also allowed me to enjoy the city and grow closer to my peers!”Ms. Heisler thought it was a rewarding experience and used this opportunity to explore post-graduate options. She said, “[I attended] incredibly interesting lectures that have directed my post-graduate plans toward Public Health.” During the conference, she was able to network with various graduate schools that catered to her interests.The 2018 BMES Annual Meeting will be held in Atlanta, Georgia on October 17-18.To find out more about Pitt’s BMES chapters, visit:Undergraduate: http://www.pittbmes.com/Graduate: http://www.pittbmes.org/

Nov
10
2017

Undergraduate Study Abroad Student Profile: Kaylene Stocking in Japan

Bioengineering, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (November 10, 2017) - Kaylene Stocking, a junior bioengineering student, spent 12 weeks in Japan this past summer, participating in the Nakatani RIES program. Through the support of the Nakatani Foundation, the program is funded for all students. The experience begins in Tokyo where participants spend three weeks taking courses in Japanese language and culture, as well as a science seminar. The remaining nine weeks are in research at a host university - for Kaylene, this was research at  Kyoto University on a project titled: “Maturation of hiPSC-derived Hepatocyte-like Cells.” Kaylene answered a few questions about her experience in the program. What was your favorite thing about living in Japan? I loved that everything I wanted to see or do was easily accessible via public transportation. Whether it was exploring a nearby city or traveling over a hundred kilometers to a rural Buddhist mountain, I could go anywhere by train. I got to see an incredible variety of things in just three months! Daily living is also very convenient in Japan because of cheap, delicious restaurants and very walkable cities.” How did you enjoy your research project? “My project was centered around stem cells, an area I’ve never studied before, so the first couple weeks were slow as I learned all the techniques I needed and did background reading. Once I was oriented, I really enjoyed getting to design and carry out my own project and feeling ownership of my results. My only regret is that I didn’t have the opportunity to stay longer and do more follow-up experiments! Do you have any advice for those looking to study in Japan? “The best advice I can give is learning how to read katakana, a Japanese phonetic alphabet that is used to label anything foreign, especially food. This will be a life-saver while trying to go grocery shopping or even when ordering in a restaurant.” For more information about the Nakatani RIES program, visit their website: http://nakatani-ries.rice.edu/. Applications are due January 16, 2018.

Nov
9
2017

Dr. David Vorp to Present at International Meeting Celebrating 50 Years of Heart Transplantation

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (November 9, 2017) - The first human heart transplant in the world was performed at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa on December 3, 1967. Professor Christiaan Barnard, Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery, after training over a decade in heart surgery, accepted the risk of transplantation and successfully performed the operation. Many believe that Barnard’s courage to perform the human heart transplant, while others in the field hesitated, was his greatest contribution. To commemorate this cross-disciplinary feat of “courage and innovation,” Groote Schuur Hospital and the University of Cape Town are hosting a 3-day program celebrating the “50th Anniversary of the 1st Heart Transplant.” The program is supported by scientific host societies across the world. David A. Vorp, Associate Dean for Research and John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering, was invited to present on December 4, 2017. His session, hosted by the International Society for Applied Cardiovascular Biology (ISACB), is themed “ISACB 30 YEARS OLD: The era of Repair, Replacement, and Regeneration.” Dr. Vorp and John Curci, Associate Professor of Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, will also chair a morning session, “Aneurysmal degeneration: The interaction of Nature and Nurture,” and Dr. Vorp will also present a lecture on “Aortic Aneurysm Biomechanics.” For more information about the program: https://1sthtx.com/index.php.

Nov
5
2017

Pitt Innovation Challenge awards $10K to Bioengineering's George Stetten for FingerSight / PalmSight wearable technology

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (November 5, 2017) - FingerSight is a project that was originally developed in 1999 by George Stetten, professor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, to help blind and visually impaired individuals better perceive their surroundings. Dr. Stetten explains, “My father went blind, and I always had an interest in developing technologies to help those with this disability.” Dr. Stetten and Roberta Klatzky, professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, patented the concept of the device, with a camera mounted on the fingertip and a vibrating mechanism on the same finger. This allows the user to quickly scan the environment while computer vision algorithms to find objects identified by verbal command.  Detection of the object is communicated through the vibrator. The original version of the device had a laser that scanned the edges of objects. This project was featured on the cover of IEEE Haptics Symposium in 2006. Dr. Stetten’s group later improved upon that model by researching how the camera can sense the angles of the object edges. This work was published in the Journal of Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine in 2014.  This device uses computer vision, a powerful and quickly evolving discipline in which information about the environment is received by video camera and interpreted by computer.Some practical applications of the device include reading street signs, locating exits, finding particular people, or avoiding street hazards.The device also lets the user control objects on a screen or intelligent targets through gestures. Dr. Stetten’s newest project is PalmSight, which is a device that helps the user reach for an object and grasp it. It uses stereo cameras mounted to the user’s palm to determine depth and an array of vibrators to guide hand motion. The user can ask for a specific object (e.g. a coffee cup), and the device will help guide the user’s hand to that object.Dr. Stetten will use the PInCh funds to further develop this technology towards commercialization.

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Bioengineering By The Numbers

269

Number of Undergraduate Students enrolled for the 2015-2016 Academic Year

154

Number of PhD Candidates enrolled for the 2014-2015 Academic Year

50

Number of Masters Candidates enrolled for the 2015-2016 Academic Year

 


29

Number of PhD Degrees Awarded in Spring/Summer/Fall 2014 

6

Number of MS Degrees Awarded in 2013-2014 Academic Year 

59

Number of BS Degrees Awarded in 2013-2014 Academic Year 

 


467

 Number of Faculty Publications in 2013-2014 Academic Year 

89

 Number of Graduate Publications in 2013-2014 Academic Year 

50

Number of Undergraduate Publications in 2012-2013 Academic Year