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.

Jul
26
2017

Pitt’s Center for Medical Innovation awards three novel biomedical devices with $65,000 total Round-1 2017 Pilot Funding

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Industrial

PITTSBURGH (July 26, 2017) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $65,000 to three research groups through its 2017 Round-1 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest funding proposals include a new technology for reducing risk of post-partum uterine hemorrhage, a thermal device for inducing nerve block in pain control, and a system to improve transplanted organ viability.CMI, a University Center housed in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, supports applied technology projects in the early stages of development with “kickstart” funding toward the goal of transitioning the research to clinical adoption. Proposals are evaluated on the basis of scientific merit, technical and clinical relevance, potential health care impact and significance, experience of the investigators, and potential in obtaining further financial investment to translate the particular solution to healthcare.“This is our sixth year of pilot funding,” said Alan D. Hirschman, PhD, CMI Executive Director. “Since our inception, more than $1 million from external funding sources and from the Swanson School of Engineering has been invested in early stage medical technologies. Many of these technologies have the potential to significantly improve the delivery of health care and several new companies have resulted from the program, which has successfully partnered UPMC’s clinicians and surgeons with the Swanson School’s engineering faculty.”AWARD 1: Objective Postpartum Uterine Tone MonitoringFunds development of a new prototype uterine tone measurement device for eventual testing in the clinical setting. The device would evaluate intra-uterine muscle tone for detection of and control of postpartum bleeding.Gerhardt Konig, MDDepartment of Anesthesiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Jason Shoemaker, PhDAssistant Professor of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of EngineeringAWARD 2: Novel Thermal Block Technology to Block Nerve ConductionFor development and preclinical testing of a thermal nerve block device for anesthesia and pain control. Early research in mice shows that the effect can be useful in controlling production and communication of nerve impulses. The award will demonstrate proof of concept to attract additional funding from external competitive grants. Development of a small implantable, wireless controlled, wireless chargeable device to control the electrodes will be a primary goal. The prototype device will then test the pudendal nerve to confirm the nerve block effects. Changfeng Tai, PhD Associate Professor of Urology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineAssociate Professor of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering Christopher Chermansky, MDAssistant Professor of Urology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineAssistant Professor of Industrial Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering Bo Zeng, PhD Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering AWARD 3: OrganEvac/Whole Organ Sonothrombolysis DeviceThis award is an equal participation between the Center for Medical Innovation and the Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program at Pitt. The early stage seed grant will demonstrate proof of concept that sonothrombolysis technology can greatly enhance viability of transplanted liver tissue through evaluation of thromboemboli in excised, non-transplantable human liver tissue. Paulo Fontes, MDAssociate Professor of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineDirector of the Machine Perfusion Program, University of Pittsburgh Medical CenterJohn Pacella, MD, MSAssistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical Center Heart and Vascular InstituteFlordeliza Villaneuva, MDVice Chair for Pre-Clinical Research, Department of Medicine and Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineDirector, Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics, University of Pittsburgh Medical CenterAbout the Center for Medical InnovationThe Center for Medical Innovation at the Swanson School of Engineering is a collaboration among the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the Innovation Institute, and the Coulter Translational Research Partnership II (CTRP). Established in 2011, CMI promotes the application and development of innovative biomedical technologies to clinical problems; educates the next generation of innovators in cooperation with the schools of Engineering, Health Sciences, Business, and Law; and facilitates the translation of innovative biomedical technologies into marketable products and services. CMI has supported more than 50 early-stage projects through more than $1 million in funding since inception. ###

Jul
10
2017

Working the [Immune] System

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (July 10, 2017) … As a rule, implants and the immune system don’t get along. The human body recognizes these materials as foreign substances and tries to fight them like a virus or bacteria. Although this response can cause trouble for doctors and patients, new research at the University of Pittsburgh suggests the immune system can actually assist the body in accepting implanted biomaterials. The National Institute on Aging, one of the 27 Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded Bryan Brown, assistant professor of bioengineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, a five-year, $1.57 million R01 grant to examine how aging affects implantable medical devices. This is the second R01 grant from the NIH Dr. Brown has received this year to support his research of implantable materials. His study, “Assessing the Impacts of Aging upon the Macrophage Response to Implantable Materials,” will specifically address reactions to implantable medical devices by the aged body, including immunosenescence (a deterioration of the immune system brought on by aging), dysregulation of white blood cell function and polarization, and delayed resolution of acute immune responses.“The impacts of aging on individuals with implants have never been investigated,” said Dr. Brown. “As Baby Boomers in particular age, the number of people over 65 will grow, and more than 75 percent of these individuals have at least one chronic condition, usually associated with inflammation. We need therefore a better understanding of how aging affects the immune system’s responses to implants.”Dr. Brown will build upon earlier research in which he demonstrated that the host inflammatory response is critical to the success and function of implants. His study found that the first week of macrophage activity (a type of white blood cell) at the implant site could predict immune system response as far as 90 days down the road. By controlling the immune system response, Dr. Brown and his team are looking for the best way to lengthen the lifespan of implants and minimize the negative effects of implanting a foreign object into the body.“Really, the challenges are not fully known,” explained Dr. Brown. “Many implants are used primarily in older individuals, so there is not always a point of comparison. However, in our previous work, we have demonstrated that the host inflammatory response is critical to success and function of implants. Therefore, we are trying to define changes in aged individuals to develop informed approaches to improving implant function in this population. With a projected two billion individuals over the age of 65 by 2050, optimizing the success of implants that can treat a wide range of illnesses could result in significant benefits for patients in their golden years.” ### Image above: Dr. Brown (middle) in the lab with Pitt BioE graduate students Alexis Nolfi (left) and Samuel LoPresti (right).
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jul
6
2017

Keeping the Beat: NIH continues Pitt’s Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Program with Five-Year, $1.9 Million Award

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (July 6, 2017) … The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has renewed funding for the University of Pittsburgh Department of Bioengineering’s Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Program (CBTP). The program - which educates students who are interested in cardiovascular research and pursuing a PhD in bioengineering - will receive nearly $1.9 million over the next five years.Sanjeev Shroff, the Distinguished Professor of and Gerald McGinnis Chair in Bioengineering at Pitt, established the CBTP in 2005 to train bioengineering doctoral students for careers in basic and/or translational cardiovascular research. By renewing the grant, the NIH has guaranteed funding until 2022.“A unique feature of the program is that students are exposed first-hand to real-world clinical problems requiring bioengineering input for their solution,” said Dr. Shroff, who serves as principal investigator for the program. “The program is designed to provide students both breadth and depth in engineering and biological sciences and also includes a formal exposure to biostatistics, bioethics, and professional and career development issues. Upon completion, students are well-versed in both basic and clinical aspects of cardiovascular engineering and are well prepared for rewarding careers in a growing field.”Student research within Pitt’s CBTP has focused on a variety of problems, ranging from basic science to novel biomedical technologies for the diagnosis and/or treatment of critical cardiovascular health issues. Examples of these research projects include: Regulation of cardiac muscle contraction by cardiac troponin-I phosphorylation Mechanical processes and pathways that underlie heart morphogenesis Molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying vaso-occlusion in Sickle Cell Disease Role of Profilin-1 in angiogenesis Externally regulated synthetic capillary system for promoting angiogenesis Rapidly degrading synthetic materials for tissue-engineered vascular grafts Extracellular matrix (ECM) scaffolds for heart tissue regeneration Adipose stem cell-based treatments for abdominal aortic aneurysms Improved biocompatibility of implanted cardiovascular devices to reduce rejection Coacervate-based controlled delivery of growth factors for cardiac repair Thermal strain imaging for non-invasive identification of vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques The NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides funding for the program and has designated the grant a National Research Service Award. These awards are granted to training programs in disciplines that address the nation’s biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs with an emphasis on producing diverse pool of highly trained scientists. Each student in the CBTP receives a monthly stipend, tuition scholarship, health insurance, and a travel budget.About the Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training ProgramThe goal of the Cardiovascular Bioengineering Training Program (CBTP) is to provide a solid foundation upon which to build a productive independent career in cardiovascular bioengineering. This is accomplished via a highly coordinated and mentored interdisciplinary training program with a combination of core and elective courses, clinical internships, research activities, and specialized training opportunities to enhance professional and career development. There are three focus areas of this program: (1) Basic understanding and quantitative characterization of native (normal and pathological conditions) and perturbed (i.e., with deployment of man-made devices or constructs) cardiovascular function at various levels of organization (cell, tissue, whole organ), (2) Imaging for functional assessment at various levels of organization (cell, tissue, whole organ), and (3) Design and optimization of artificial devices and constructs (mechanical, tissue-engineered, and hybrid).About Dr. ShroffDr. Sanjeev Shroff is the Distinguished Professor of and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair in Bioengineering and Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and Chair of the Department of Bioengineering. Prior to joining the faculty at Pitt, Dr. Shroff was a faculty member at the University of Chicago for 17 years in the Department of Medicine (Cardiology Section). Trained as an electrical engineer (Bachelor of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India, and Master of Engineering from McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada), Dr. Shroff obtained his doctoral degree in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania and completed his Postdoctoral Fellowship within the Cardiovascular-Pulmonary Division of the University of Pennsylvania Department of Medicine. Dr. Shroff is widely recognized as a distinguished scholar in the cardiovascular arena. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
May
31
2017

Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation Awards $100,000 to BioE’s Abhijit Roy

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH, PA (May 31, 2017) … The Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation (MTF) has chosen Dr. Abhijit Roy, a Research Assistant Professor in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Bioengineering, as a recipient of its Junior Investigator Award to help fund his research into a novel bone grafts with the potential for complete bone generation in areas with defects.“The grant is aimed at providing a revolutionary concept representing a paradigm shift in the arena of degradable materials for craniomaxillofacial bone regeneration,” said Dr. Roy. “Success of this project will establish a revolutionary technology possessing unique benefits not proffered by existing synthetic bone grafts, including complete resorption, osteoconductivity, mechanical stability throughout the complete bone healing process, and biocompatibility and safety.” Beginning in July 2017, Dr. Roy will receive $100,000 over one year for his study “Novel Mg Alloy Based Biodegradable Porous Scaffolds for Bone Regeneration of Critical Sized Cranial Bone Defects.” The research will be carried out in the group of Dr. Prashant N. Kumta, the Edward R. Weidlein Chair Professor in the Swanson School of Engineering and School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Kumta will serve as coinvestigator on the study along with Dr. Vijay S. Gorantla, assistant professor of plastic surgery at Pitt, and Dr. MaCalus V. Hogan, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at Pitt.The MTF Junior Investigator Award is for researchers attempting to advance allografts, the science of transplantation, and the biological reconstruction of musculoskeletal tissues. Allografts, a type of non-synthetic graft, come from donors other than the patient. They can lead to complications from adverse immune response and the risk of disease transmission. Autografts, non-synthetic grafts taken from the patient’s own tissue, usually require a second surgical site and can increase the risk for infection, require extended operating room and recovery times, and increase healthcare expenditures. According to MTF, many doctors prefer allografts over autografts because of their availability, safety, and readiness for use. However, in both allografts and autografts, the amount of tissue that can be harvested is limited. Synthetic bone graft substitutes offer new therapy options for the treatment of bone defects without the complications associated with non-synthetic grafts. “Unfortunately, the majority of synthetic bone grafts developed to date are inert and non-degradable which lead to insufficient bone formation, poor integration to the surrounding tissue, long term complications and the need for prolonged treatment with antibiotics and immunosuppressive therapies,” explained Dr. Roy. “This project will test the use of a novel degradable magnesium metal alloy-based bone graft that will lead to complete bone regeneration in a rat calvarial [or skullcap] defect.” ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
May
10
2017

Following two decades as Dean, Gerald Holder to return to faculty at Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering

All SSoE News, Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS, Diversity

PITTSBURGH (May 10, 2017) ... Marking the culmination of more than two decades of dynamic leadership, Gerald D. Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering in the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, has announced his intention to step down from his position to return to the faculty in the fall of 2018.Holder, Distinguished Service Professor of chemical engineering, has been dean of the Swanson School since 1996 and a member of its faculty since 1979.“Two words come to mind when I look back on Jerry’s incredible career as dean of our Swanson School of Engineering: tremendous growth,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “Under Jerry’s leadership, our Swanson School has seen record enrollment levels and total giving to the school has topped $250 million. “The school has also expanded academically to support new knowledge in areas like energy and sustainability — and also new partnerships, including a joint engineering program with China’s Sichuan University. And while I will certainly miss Jerry’s many contributions as dean, I am grateful that he will remain an active faculty member and continue to strengthen our Swanson School’s bright future,” Gallagher said.       “Through a focus on innovation and excellence, Dean Holder has led a transformation of the Swanson School of Engineering into a leader in engineering research and education,” said Patricia E. Beeson, provost and senior vice chancellor. Beeson added, "From the establishment of the now top-ranked Department of Bioengineering to the integrated first-year curriculum that has become a national model, the Swanson School has been a change maker. And with nearly three-quarters of the faculty hired while he has been dean, the culture of success that he has established will remain long after he steps down.” The University plans to announce the search process for his successor in the coming months. Holder’s Many Accomplishments In his 21 years as dean, Holder has overseen school growth as well as increases in research awards and philanthropic gifts. Enrollment has doubled to nearly 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and the number of PhDs has increased threefold. Holder also has emphasized programs to nourish diversity and engagement — for example, in 2012 the Swanson School had the highest percentage in the nation of engineering doctoral degrees awarded to women. Co-curricular programs also have prospered during Holder’s tenure. The school’s cooperative education program, which places students in paid positions in industry during their undergraduate studies, has increased to approximately 300 active employers. International education or study abroad has also become a hallmark of a Pitt engineering education, with 46 percent participation in 2015 versus a 4.6 percent national average for engineering and a 22.6 percent national average for STEM fields. The school’s annual sponsored research has tripled during Holder’s years as dean, totaling a cumulative $400 million. Alumnus John A. Swanson’s landmark $43 million naming gift came in 2007, the largest-ever gift by an individual to the University at the time.University-wide initiatives developed during Holder’s tenure as dean include the Gertrude E. and John M. Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering; the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, founded with support of alumnus John C. “Jack” Mascaro; and the Center for Energy.Holder is likewise held in high regard by his peers. "As a dean of long standing, many of us refer to Dean Holder as `the Dean of deans,’ not just because of his years of service but also because of the respect that we have for his leadership, mentorship and impact on the engineering profession,” said James H. Garrett Jr., dean of the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.“He is an accomplished academician, an exceptional academic leader and a tremendous human being.” Holder, a noted expert on natural gas hydrates and author of more than 100 journal articles, earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Kalamazoo College and bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan. He was a faculty member in chemical engineering at Columbia University prior to joining the Pitt engineering faculty in 1979. He served as chair of the chemical engineering department from 1987 to 1995 before being named dean of engineering.Among many professional accomplishments, he was named an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow in 2003. In 2008 he was named an American Institute of Chemical Engineers Fellow and was awarded the William Metcalf Award from the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania for lifetime achievement in engineering. In 2015 he was elected chair of the American Society of Engineering Educators’ (ASEE) Engineering Deans Council, the leadership organization of engineering deans in the U.S., for a two-year term. The council has approximately 350 members, representing more than 90 percent of all U.S. engineering deans and is tasked by ASEE to advocate for engineering education, research and engagement throughout the U.S., especially among the public at large and in U.S. public policy. ###
Author: Kimberly Barlow, University Communications

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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