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.


Pitt engineering and health sciences researchers receive NIH grant to develop better methodology to treat rotator cuff tears


PITTSBURGH (September 28, 2016) … Rotator cuff tears are one of the most common injuries seen by orthopedic surgeons, resulting in 30 percent of all visits to orthopaedic surgeons and over 150,000 surgical procedures per year in the United States. The preferred initial treatment is six to twelve weeks of physical therapy (PT), but 25-50 percent of those cases still require surgery. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering recently received a $2.79 million award from the National Institute of Health to develop diagnostic methods to allow surgeons to determine whether PT or surgery is the most effective initial treatment. Principal investigator of the five-year study, “Predicting the Outcome of Exercise Therapy for Treatment of Rotator Cuff Tears,” is Richard E. Debski, associate professor of bioengineering and co-director of the Orthopaedic Robotics Laboratory at Pitt. Co-Principal investigators are James J. Irrgang, professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy in Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and vice chair of clinical outcomes research in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery; and Scott Tashman, professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “Rotator cuff injuries are one of the most common injuries for people aged 40-70, and can be caused by an injury but often occur simply from wear and tear as we age,” Dr. Debski explained. “Over the age of 50, chances increase that 40-50 percent of people have a tear and many don’t know it. Although physical therapy is the first preferred treatment, most patients still require surgery, which prolongs recovery time and increases costs. Our goal is to utilize new methods to perform a biomechanical analysis to determine whether a patient is more suited for PT or surgery, and thereby improve overall recovery.” Over the first two years, Dr. Debski and his group plan to enroll 100 patients with isolated full thickness tears of the supraspinatus tendon – the most basic tear. The biomechanics analysis will measure shoulder motion and tear size before and after physical therapy. He noted the technology that they will use, a bi-planar x-ray system that Dr. Tashman developed, is unique in such a study. The x-ray images provide quantitative measurements of shoulder motion during activities of daily living and are representative of rotator cuff function. The group will also track the tear size longitudinally out to one year, a first for such a study. Their long-term goal is to perform a clinical trial to determine whether the predictions make a difference in treatment outcomes. “Determining the characteristics of treatment versus surgery will be critical, but for the first time we’ll be gathering comprehensive, quantitative data to make these predictions,” he said. “The genesis of this study began in 2011 with Dr. Volker Musahl, medical director of the UPMC Rooney Center for Sports Medicine and orthopaedic surgeon for Pitt’s football team. Our rotator cuff research has now grown to include bioengineering, radiology, physical therapy and orthopaedic surgery, which is a tremendous interdisciplinary effort to attack this problem.” ### Animation above: X-rays images of the shoulder from the dynamic stereoradiography system (DSX) while a subject elevates their affected arm in the coronal plane. Left image: pre-exercise therapy; Right image: post-exercise therapy. (Credit: Images were obtained in the Biodynamics Laboratory; Department of Orthopaedic Surgery; University of Pittsburgh.)


ChemE's Morgan Fedorchak visits the Carnegie Science Center to explore how new drugs help patients see clearly

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (August 30, 2016) ... Eye drops are critical to preventing and treating ocular ailments, but they can be uncomfortable and sometimes difficult to use. Join University of Pittsburgh Assistant Professor Dr. Morgan Fedorchak at Carnegie Science Center’s next Café Scientifique, Monday, Sept. 12 from 7 – 9 pm as she discusses new technologies that could see patients more comfortable, and compliant, with their medication routines. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, expected to affect up to three million Americans by 2020. One of the main risk factors in glaucoma is an unsafe increase in intraocular pressure or IOP. During her talk, “Old Drugs, New Tricks: Putting an End to Traditional Eye Drops,” Fedorchak will explain how IOP reduction in patients with glaucoma can be accomplished through the use of medicated eye drops. However, difficulties in using and administering eye drops mean patient medication compliance rates can be as low as 30 percent. Fedorchak will discuss some of the latest developments in ocular medicine that could overcome the issues surrounding traditional eye drop medication. Fedorchak is an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, Chemical Engineering, and Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Pittsburgh and is the director of the Ophthalmic Biomaterials Laboratory. She attended Carnegie Mellon University where she obtained her B.S. in both Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering in 2006. She earned her PhD in bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research is currently supported by the National Eye Institute, the Cystinosis Research Foundation, the University of Pittsburgh Center for Medical Innovation, and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. After the talk, audience members will be invited to ask questions and become part of the discussion. Admission to Café Sci is free. Food and drinks are available for purchase. Doors open at 6 pm. The evening includes time for informal discussion, eating, and drinking. For more information and to RSVP, visit CarnegieScienceCenter.org, call 412-237-3400, or visit here to register. About Carnegie Science Center Carnegie Science Center is dedicated to inspiring learning and curiosity by connecting science and technology with everyday life. By making science both relevant and fun, the Science Center’s goal is to increase science literacy in the region and motivate young people to seek careers in science and technology. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the Science Center is Pittsburgh’s premier science exploration destination, reaching more than 700,000 people annually through its hands-on exhibits, camps, classes, and off-site education programs. About Carnegie Museums of PittsburghEstablished in 1895 by Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is a collection of four distinctive museums: Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum. In 2015, the museums reached more than 1.4 million people through exhibitions, educational programs, outreach activities, and special events. ###
Author: Susan Zimecki, Carnegie Science Center (ZimeckiS@CarnegieScienceCenter.org). Posted with Permission.

Stony Brook’s Dr. Barry Lieber named first recipient of ASME’s Savio L-Y. Woo Translational Biomechanics Medal


NEW YORK/PITTSBURGH (August 24, 2016) … B. Barry Lieber, professor in the department of neurosurgery at Stony Brook University and the Director of the CerebroVascular Center for Research (CVCR), is the inaugural recipient of the Savio L-Y. Woo Translational Biomechanics Medal awarded by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The medal honors those ASME members who have translated meritorious bioengineering research and development to clinical practice. Dr. Lieber is recognized for significantly advancing brain aneurysm treatment through the engineering and development of flow diversion technology, which has been used to treat more than 50,000 patients worldwide to date. He has a broad background in engineering, animal models, endovascular methods, and devices, with specific expertise in cerebrovascular disease and stroke. Dr. Lieber also is the co-inventor of the flow diverter, a device for endovascular bypass of brain aneurysms that is considered one of the most innovative technologies in the field of neuro-intervention in the last decade. The ASME Translational Biomechanics Medal celebrates the career and achievements of Savio L-Y. Woo, PhD, Distinguished University Professor of Bioengineering in the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, and founder and director of the Musculoskeletal Research Center (MSRC) at Pitt. In honor of Dr. Woo’s international impact on bioengineering and translational research, the ASME Translational Biomechanics Medal recognizes the significant contributions of bioengineers whose work has resulted in the development of a medical device or equipment, contributed to new approaches of disease treatment, or established new injury treatment modalities. ###


Mechanical Engineering's Anne Robertson named Grant Reviewer for National Institutes Of Health

Bioengineering, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (August 24, 2016) … The National Institutes of Health (NIH) appointed Anne M. Robertson, William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Engineering and Director of the Center for Faculty Excellence in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Material Science at the University of Pittsburgh, to the Neuroscience and Ophthalmic Imaging Technologies Study Section at the Center for Scientific Review. Members of NIH Study Sections are responsible for reviewing grant applications and making recommendations to the appropriate national advisory council or board for funding. They are also expected to have a comprehensive understanding of the status of research in their fields of science and apply that knowledge in the evaluation of research proposals. “The National Institutes of Health have an invaluable impact on reducing disease, improving health and quality of life, conducting fundamental research and creating a community of leading scientists who support each other’s efforts,” said Robertson, who is also a professor of Bioengineering at Pitt. “I am honored with this opportunity to join colleagues in contributing to the mission of the largest biomedical research institution in the world.” The appointment of study members is based on the scientists’ demonstrated competence and achievements in their disciplines. Potential study members must have also demonstrated outstanding results in their research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors. NIH officers in charge of selecting new study members take in to account mature judgment and objectivity as well as the ability to work effectively in a group. Robertson will serve a four-year term as a NIH Reviewer from July 1, 2016 until June 30, 2020. About Anne Robertson Robertson is professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. She holds a William Kepler Whiteford Endowed Professorship in Engineering. Robertson’s research is focused on cerebral vascular disease and mechanobiology, and she directs a multi-institution program on cerebral aneurysm research. She is principal investigator on a current R01 and two multi PI R21 grants from the National Institutes of Health and has held visiting research professorships at universities, including the Polictecnico di Milano (Italy), the Bernouilli Center at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL, Switzerland) and RWTH University of Aachen (Germany). Robertson is director and founder of the newly formed Center for Faculty Excellence in the Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE). This Center takes the lead in developing and implementing programs to enhance the effectiveness of junior faculty in building outstanding academic careers. Robertson was one of 19 women admitted into the 2013-2014 class of the Executive Leadership in Academic Technology and Engineering (ELATE) at Drexel University, during which she developed Program LE2AP (Leveraging Excellence in Engineering Assistant Professors) that led to the development of the Center. Robertson earned her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California Berkeley, after which she was a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering, also at U.C. Berkeley. She joined the University of Pittsburgh in 1995, where she was the first female faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She served as director of the Graduate Program in Mechanical Engineering from 2004 to 2008. In 2007, she was the recipient of the Beitle-Veltri Memorial Outstanding Teaching Award in the SSOE. Robertson is a strong supporter of diversity-related initiatives, and in 2007, she received the Robert O. Agbede Faculty Award for Diversity in the SSOE. ###
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Bioengineering Faculty tenured/tenure-stream

Bioengineering, Open Positions

The Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering (www.engineering.pitt.edu/bioengineering) invites applications from accomplished individuals with an earned PhD or equivalent degree in bioengineering or closely related disciplines. This is a tenured/tenure-stream, open-rank position and we wish to recruit individuals with strong research accomplishments in biomimetics, synthetic biology, and the engineering of living systems. However, outstanding candidates that complement our current strengths in biomechanics, neural engineering, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, medical device engineering, and bioimaging, will also be considered. In addition, candidates must be committed to contributing to high quality education of a diverse student body at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.Located in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh is a top-five institution in terms of NIH funding, and provides a rich environment for interdisciplinary research, strengthened through its affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and collaborations with Carnegie Mellon University, including the joint Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (www.cnbc.cmu.edu). The Department of Bioengineering, consistently ranked among the top programs in the country, has outstanding research and educational programs, offering undergraduate (270 students, sophomore-to-senior years) and graduate (140 PhD or MD/PhD and 50 MS students) degrees. The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine (www.mirm.pitt.edu), Vascular Medicine Institute (www.vmi.pitt.edu), Brain Institute (www.braininstitute.pitt.edu), Center for Neuroscience (cnup.neurobio.pitt.edu), and Drug Discovery Institute (www.upddi.pitt.edu) offer many collaborative research opportunities.Interested individuals should send the following as a single, self-contained PDF attachment via email to bioeapp@pitt.edu(include AY17 PITT BIOE POSITION in the subject line): (1) cover letter, (2) complete CV (including funding record), (3) research statement, (4) teaching statement, (5) three representative publications, and (6) names and complete contact information of six references. We intend to fill this position as soon as possible and candidates are encouraged to apply early because applications will be reviewed as they are received.The Department of Bioengineering is strongly committed to a diverse academic environment and places high priority on attracting female and underrepresented minority candidates. We strongly encourage candidates from these groups to apply for the position. The University of Pittsburgh is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, marital status, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.


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Bioengineering By The Numbers


Number of Undergraduate Students enrolled for the 2013-2014 Academic Year


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


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



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


Number of MS Degrees Awarded in 2013-2014 Academic Year 


Number of BS Degrees Awarded in 2013-2014 Academic Year 



 Number of Faculty Publications in 2013-2014 Academic Year 


 Number of Graduate Publications in 2013-2014 Academic Year 


Number of Undergraduate Publications in 2012-2013 Academic Year