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.

Apr
25
2017

ALung Submits IDE Application to FDA Seeking Approval to Conduct Pivotal Study of the Hemolung RAS

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (April 25, 2017) - ALung Technologies, Inc., announced today the submission of its Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeking approval to conduct a pivotal clinical study of the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System for the treatment of adults with severe acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD affects 30 million Americans1 and is the third leading cause of death in the United States behind cancer and heart disease.2 Acute exacerbations, defined as a sudden worsening of COPD symptoms, are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in COPD patients. For patients with severe exacerbations, high levels of carbon dioxide can result in respiratory failure and the need for intubation and mechanical ventilation as life saving measures. Unfortunately, mechanical ventilation is associated with many side effects, and in-hospital mortality remains as high as 30%. The Hemolung technology aims to avoid or reduce the need for intubation and ventilator support by directly removing carbon dioxide from the blood. ALung has been working with the FDA under the Expedited Access Pathway (EAP) program to complete pre-clinical testing and finalize its clinical study protocol. “Submission of our IDE is a significant milestone, made possible only through the hard work of our team in close collaboration with the FDA,” said Peter DeComo, Chairman and CEO of ALung. “We look forward to completing the IDE review and beginning the study later this year.” ALung’s recently announced $36 million Series C financing, led by Philips and UPMC Enterprises, will support the clinical study program. About ALung Technologies ALung Technologies, Inc. is a privately-held Pittsburgh-based developer and manufacturer of innovative lung assist devices. Founded in 1997 as a spin-out of the University of Pittsburgh, ALung has developed the Hemolung RAS as a dialysis-like alternative or supplement to mechanical ventilation. ALung is backed by Philips, UPMC Enterprises, Abiomed, The Accelerator Fund, Allos Ventures, Birchmere Ventures, Blue Tree Ventures, Eagle Ventures, Riverfront Ventures, West Capital Advisors, and other individual investors. For more information about ALung and the Hemolung RAS, visit www.alung.com. This press release may contain forward-looking statements, which, if not based on historical facts, involve current assumptions and forecasts as well as risks and uncertainties. Our actual results may differ materially from the results or events stated in the forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, certain events not within the Company’s control. Events that could cause results to differ include failure to meet ongoing developmental and manufacturing timelines, changing GMP requirements, the need for additional capital requirements, risks associated with regulatory approval processes, adverse changes to reimbursement for the Company’s products/services, and delays with respect to market acceptance of new products/services and technologies. Other risks may be detailed from time to time, but the Company does not attempt to revise or update its forward-looking statements even if future experience or changes make it evident that any projected events or results expressed or implied therein will not be realized. ### References 1. https://www.copdfoundation.org/What-is-COPD/COPD-Facts/Statistics.aspx2. http://www.lung.org/assets/documents/research/copd-trend-report.pdf
ALung Technologies News Release
Apr
18
2017

“Rescue Stent” Wins Another Award from Society For Biomaterials

Bioengineering

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (April 18, 2017) … The “Rescue Stent,” a medical device designed at the University of Pittsburgh to help manage large vessel hemorrhaging after a chest trauma, won the Audience Award at the 3rd Society For Biomaterials (SFB) 2017 Business Plan Competition. Puneeth Shridhar, MD MS, who is pursuing second doctoral degree in Bioengineering at Pitt, presented the Rescue Stent during the SFB Annual Meeting & Exposition in Minneapolis. The audience members voted for his presentation to receive the $1,000 prize and Audience Award recognition.The SFB Business Plan Competition evaluates biomaterials-based research innovations from all over the world that have the potential to succeed in the medical device industry. Participants submit abstracts containing an information about the technology, market research and a commercialization strategy. They then present their ideas in the form of a 10-minute pitch followed by a question and answer session from judges and audience members.Dr. Shridhar was attending the conference to accept another award he won earlier this year: the Honorable Mention Student Travel Achievement (STAR) Award. The SFB Education and Professional Development Committee recognized Dr. Shridhar with the STAR Award for his outstanding student paper titled “The Rescue Stent for Non Compressible Traumatic Hemorrhage.” The paper outlined the development, design and future business strategy for the Rescue Stent.In 2016, the United States Department of Defense granted $2.5 million in funds for a four-year research collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering and UPMC Division of Vascular Surgery to develop the Rescue Stent. The research team is working to make the Rescue Stent the first removable, collapsible and biocompatible trauma stent to prevent internal bleeding from the aorta. The Rescue Stent will have both military and civilian applications and could greatly reduce fatalities caused by gunshot wounds, stabbings and other related torso injuries.Dr. Bryan Tillman, assistant professor of vascular surgery at the School of Medicine, serves as principal investigator on the study that received funding to develop the Rescue Stent. Joining Dr. Tillman are three engineering professors: Youngjae Chun, assistant professor in the Departments of Industrial Engineering and Bioengineering; Sung Kwon Cho, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science; and William Clark, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
14
2017

BioE’s Jaeyeon Choi Awarded $45,000 to Develop New Treatment for Metastatic Melanoma

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH, PA (April 14, 2017) … The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) awarded Jaeyeon Choi, a graduate student in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, a two-year, $45,000 research grant for her proposal to use targeted radionuclides in the treatment of metastatic melanoma, also known as Stage IV melanoma. Radionuclide therapy is a rapidly growing branch of nuclear medicine, according to SNMMI. The treatment uses radioactive drugs called radiopharmaceuticals to target and eliminate cancer cells, often directly and with limited damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. Researchers have already developed targeted radionuclide therapies to treat certain diseases such as prostate cancer, and organizations like SNMMI are looking to expand the treatments to a variety of other cancers. In her proposal “Improving VLA-4 targeted radio nuclide therapy for metastatic melanoma with 177Lu-labeled albumin-binding LLP2A,” Choi outlined a new method of using radionuclides to treat metastatic melanoma and a new imaging strategy to better determine how patients are responding to the therapy. “Metastatic melanoma is a highly challenging disease to treat, and treatment approaches are very limited,” said Choi. “The five-year survival rate for patients is only 15-20 percent. I think my proposal was chosen because of the critical need to improve therapies and increase the overall survival of patients with metastatic melanoma.” At the University of Pittsburgh, Choi studies radionuclide therapies and diagnostics for the treatment of human diseases under the supervision of Carolyn Anderson, co-director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute In Vivo Imaging Facility. Dr. Anderson is also a professor of radiology with a secondary appointment in the Swanson School of Engineering Department of Bioengineering. Choi’s research focuses on developing novel molecular imaging probes using radionuclides to target specific immune cells, which can be used to diagnose human inflammatory diseases such as tuberculosis. She is also working on a project developing novel targeted radionuclide therapeutics for the treatment of different types of cancers.  “The bioengineering program at Pitt has given me great opportunities to incorporate different approaches to research from multiple engineering fields including tissue engineering, biomaterials and medical imaging,” said Choi. “I think technology is improving by becoming more multidisciplinary, and Dr. Anderson has really helped me take advantage of the University’s resources while designing and executing my research projects.” The SNMMI awards the Pre-doctoral Molecular Imaging Scholar Program grant to only one recipient every two years. The research scholar must be working in an established molecular imaging lab and must be a full-time student working toward a PhD or MD in an educational institution during the award period. The objective of the grant is “to encourage the integration of imaging approaches in the research of molecular pathways of disease.” Choi began studying at the University of Pittsburgh in 2015 and is on track to receive her PhD in 2019. She would like to continue her study in radiopharmaceutical science and work in a faculty position at a research institution after graduation. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
3
2017

BodyExplorer Shows Students What They’re Made of

Bioengineering

ORLANDO, FL (April 3, 2017) … Imagine you are a medical or nursing student who wants to learn how to effectively and safely anesthetize a patient prior to surgery. You walk up to the patient and are guided by a virtual instructor’s voice and hands projected onto the body. You open up viewports that enable you to see through the skin to visualize the position of the breathing tube you are inserting into the trachea. All medications you inject are measured, and you are alerted if you administer an incorrect dose—and if you make such a mistake, no one is harmed: you can “push the reset button” and try again.This is the guided learning experience provided by BodyExplorer, a next-generation medical simulator developed by a multidisciplinary team at the Simulation and Medical Technology R&D Laboratory in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. The entire system, including a highly sensorized physical model of a human body and an augmented-reality projection system, can easily fit on a table in a classroom or a nurses’ break room in a hospital unit. The system demonstrates advanced simulation-based healthcare training with automated instruction, real-time feedback and round-the-clock accessibility for trainees.  At the Serious Games and Virtual Environments (SG/VE) Showcase during the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH) in Orlando, BodyExplorer won the “Best in Show” award in the student project category. Douglas Nelson, Jr., a PhD student in bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, presented BodyExplorer to the judges.“We’ve been developing BodyExplorer over the past five years to help students learn about medicine, nursing, pharmacy and clinical procedures,” Nelson said. “We designed the system to make simulators easier to use for students and instructors, which seemed to impress the judges looking to the future of healthcare simulation. BodyExplorer is particularly useful because its automated instruction can allow trainees to practice without supervision while still receiving feedback on proper technique. This has the potential to provide more efficient simulation-based healthcare training by reducing the workload on educators while increasing availability of such training to students.”Using BodyExplorer’s augmented-reality (AR) visualization, students can manipulate an image projected onto the mannequin torso. Trainees can use a simple, pen-like tool to open “windows” into the underlying anatomy, revealing muscles, bones and organs, including breathing lungs and a beating heart. The trainees can also see patient vital signs or other data; for example, they can pull up an electrocardiogram (ECG) graph to see how the ECG relates to the sound and motion of the heart and how it is affected by injected drug simulants.Joseph Samosky, assistant professor of bioengineering at Pitt, is the originator and principal investigator of the BodyExplorer project and faculty advisor for Nelson’s PhD research. “If a student wants to explore the effects of medications on cardiac function, the student can inject simulated drugs and the system will automatically respond with changes in heart rate that can be seen, heard and visualized on the ECG displayed directly beside the beating heart,” Samosky said. “We want to maintain a focus on the patient. In BodyExplorer, the body itself becomes a tangible user interface (TUI), sensing inputs from and displaying information back to the trainee. The system enables you to interact naturally with the simulated patient and see the internal consequences of your external actions.”BodyExplorer is highly interactive. It features a novel drug-simulant recognition system that encodes an identity, or “signature,” directly in the fluid itself, so simulated drugs can be injected in a naturalistic way and automatically recognized by the system. If the trainee administers a medication too quickly, BodyExplorer may elicit a loud, painful scream. Likewise, if the trainee administers a medication that causes the heart to beat faster, BodyExplorer’s digitally-animated heart will pulse more quickly and the pounding sound of heartbeats will also quicken.John O’Donnell, professor and chair of the Department of Nurse Anesthesia joined the BodyExplorer team in 2013 as a clinical co-investigator and faculty advisor on the project. He co-chaired the IMSH conference which had the highest attendance of any international simulation conference in the world to date with more than 3,500 healthcare educators and students. O’Donnell has been assisting with the development and validation of curriculum for the system and notes that “students in healthcare training programs want and need the chance to practice their skills and get immediate feedback. BodyExplorer has the potential to revolutionize the current model of training by offering ‘just in time’ and ‘on-demand’ access to key simulation experiences.”The broadening of access for students is another key goal of the BodyExplorer project, Nelson explained. “Current healthcare simulation training is very resource intensive, requiring technicians, instructors and often specially-designed rooms. We want to bring simulation technology and training into everyday classrooms or hospitals and make it usable by students on their own without special training in simulator operation. The current BodyExplorer prototypes fit in the trunk of my car, and we would like to make commercialized models even more compact and easy to set up as we redesign them for manufacturability.”Nelson, who will complete his PhD in April, plans after his graduation to develop a newly-founded company to bring to market a commercial version of the BodyExplorer simulation system. The development of the several technologies that have been integrated into the BodyExplorer system has been principally funded by the University of Pittsburgh Departments of Anesthesiology and Bioengineering. Additional funding has been provided by the U.S. Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) and a Coulter Translational Research Award, as well as additional resources from the School of Nursing’s Department of Nurse Anesthesia. Follow this link to see a video of how BodyExplorer works: http://www.innovation.pitt.edu/innovations/bodyexplorer/ ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Mar
22
2017

The Swanson School Presents Alumnus Mark DiSilvestro with 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award for Bioengineering

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (March 22, 2017) … Collectively they are professors, researchers and authors; inventors, builders and producers; business leaders, entrepreneurs and industry pioneers. The 53rd annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet brought together honorees from each of the Swanson School of Engineering’s six departments and one overall honoree to represent the entire school. The banquet took place at the University of Pittsburgh's Alumni Hall, and Gerald D. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering, presented the awards. This year’s recipient for the Department of Bioengineering was Mark DiSilvestro, MSBEG ’99, PhD BIOE ’00, COO of Cases By Source and President of Vista Management Consulting LLC. “Despite Bioengineering being our newest department, its alumni have had truly outstanding successes,” said Dean Holder. “Mark earned both his master’s and PhD in bioengineering from Pitt and since then has established himself in the medical device industry, first at the startup Tissue-Informatics, and later as an R&D specialist. His career has truly been interdisciplinary and is an example how an engineer can play a critical role in translational research, operations and business development.”About Mark DiSilvestroDr. Mark DiSilvestro earned both an MS and a PhD in bioengineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 1999 and 2000, respectively. He was a member of the Musculoskeletal Research Center where he was a Whitaker Research Fellow. He earned his BS in biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University in 1996. DiSilvestro has built a career in the medical device industry as a technical contributor in R&D and product development, as a manager of projects and teams and as an executive responsible for all business operations. He began by working at a startup company, TissueInformatics, as a principal scientist. He worked with a team that developed a high speed imaging device for scanning histology slides and creating digital montages of tissue sections that were characterized using novel algorithms. DePuy Orthopaedics, a Johnson & Johnson company, recruited DiSilvestro in 2001. He began with DePuy as a senior engineer in sensors and electronic technologies and was promoted first to staff engineer and then to Manager of Global Concept Development. After leaving Depuy, he went to Becton Dickinson where he developed a global project prioritization process integrated with the company’s change management process which achieved $3 million in annualized cost reductions in its first year. He continued his management role when he left Becton Dickinson to join Medin Corporation in 2008. By 2013, DiSilvestro was promoted to COO and was responsible for all operations of the business.In 2009, DiSilvestro started his own consulting company, Vista Management Consulting LLC. As president, he oversees projects ranging from performing mechanical analysis of structures for design optimization to organizational assessments and recommendations for hiring and process improvements. He was recruited to Cases By Source in 2016, and he is currently the COO. ### Photo Above: Dean Holder (left) with Mark DiSilvestro and BioE Department Chair Sanjeev Shroff.
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

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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