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.


BrainHub Engineers Receive NSF Grant To Study Neuron Variability and Motor Learning


Carnegie Mellon University News Release - Posted With Permission PITTSBURGH (August 12, 2015) ... When we move, we rarely move in the exact same way twice. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Carnegie Mellon University Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering Steven Chase and Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering Byron Yu , and their long-time collaborator, University of Pittsburgh Associate Professor of Bioengineering Aaron Batista , an $869,000 grant to conduct basic research that will establish how variability in movement is encoded in the brain and how this variability contributes to learning and performance. The award is one of 16 NSF grants totaling $13.1 million to support potentially transformative research in neural and cognitive systems. The awards are among the first from the cross-disciplinary NSF Integrative Strategies for Understanding Neural and Cognitive Systems program , which is part of the NSF's support of the federal BRAIN Initiative . "These teams are building on creative ideas from within and beyond neuroscience," said Kenneth Whang, NSF program director in the Computer & Information Science & Engineering Directorate , which co-funds the awards. "We're seeing some dynamic new research collaborations that will have huge impacts on fundamental questions, and on what we can discover or invent in the future." The CMU-led team, which is made up of researchers from the university's BrainHub SM initiative and the University of Pittsburgh, will bring together expertise in neuroscience, engineering and computer science to establish a fundamental understanding of neural variability in motor learning. "Movements are inherently variable. If you threw a dart the exact same way every time, you'd either always get a bulls-eye or never get one," said Chase, who is a member of the joint CMU/University of Pittsburgh Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition . "On the surface, variability seems like it could be a detriment to reliable, short-term performance. But, if we look closer, variability also promotes learning by encouraging us to explore different movements in order to find out the most efficient and effective way to move." Chase, Yu and Batista will take recordings from neurons in the motor and premotor cortices of an animal model as it performs movement-related tasks. They will use these recordings to establish how variability in neuronal responses exists, with the hopes of establishing connections between variability, performance and learning. "There is a growing recognition in medicine and basic science of the need to understand and account for differences between individuals. It is the wisdom of the NSF to recognize that individual differences and variability are important but overlooked factors in understanding brain function," Batista said. "Steve Chase, Byron Yu and I have an already-strong collaboration, which has led to multiple publications and training experiences for our students and postdocs. Our collaborations are a direct manifestation of the culture of our two universities. This grant arises directly out of the foundation we have built so far." ###  
Jocelyn Duffy, Carnegie Mellon University

Center for Medical Innovation awards four novel biomedical devices with $95,000 total Round-1 2015 Pilot Funding


PITTSBURGH (August 5, 2015) … The University of Pittsburgh's Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $95,000 to four research groups through its 2015 Round-1 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest funding proposals include developing a patient monitoring wristband, a novel material to prevent thrombosis in vascular stents, a neuro-stimulation device to prevent bed-wetting in children, and a novel method for treatment of sickle cell anemia. CMI, a University Center housed in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE), 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 fourth year of pilot funding, and our leadership team could not be more excited with the breadth and depth of this round's awardees," said Alan D. Hirschman, PhD , CMI Executive Director. "This early-stage interdisciplinary research helps to develop highly specific biomedical technologies through a proven strategy of linking UPMC's clinicians and surgeons with the Swanson School's engineering faculty." AWARD 1 George Stuart Mendenhall M.D.     Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Vascular Medicine Institute Mingui Sun, PhD Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and BioEngineering FOR: An interactive, real time wearable system for remote cardiac monitoring Award to design, build and test a wearable physiological monitoring system for use in intensive care. AWARD 2 Luka Pocivavsek, M.D., PhD Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sachin Velankar, PhD   Professor of Chemical Engineering FOR:  Design of Artificial Polymeric Cylindrical Vascular Grafts with Tunable Luminal Topography Award to develop a new, non-thrombogenic dynamic material for vascular stents.AWARD 3 Marina V. Kameneva, PhD Department of Surgery and Bioengineering McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Jonathan H. Waters, MD Department of Anesthesiology & Bioengineering Magee Womens Hospital Mark Gartner, PhD Department of Bioengineering University of Pittsburgh FOR: Reducing alloimmunization and sickle crisis in sickle cell disease patients using a novel method of replacing HbS with donor Hb in autologous RBCs Award to develop a novel method for treating sickle cell anemia.AWARD 4 Changfeng Tai, PhD Associate Professor of Urology, UPMC Heidi Stephany, MD Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Mingui Sun, PhD Professor of Electrical Engineering, Swanson School of Engineering FOR: Prevent Bedwetting in Children by Foot Neuromodulation Award to apply a new technology to prevent bedwetting in children. About the Center for Medical Innovation The 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 Office of Technology Management (OTM), and the Coulter Translational Research Partnership II (CTRP). CMI was established in 2011 to promote the application and development of innovative biomedical technologies to clinical problems; to educate the next generation of innovators in cooperation with the schools of Engineering, Health Sciences, Business, and Law; and to facilitate the translation of innovative biomedical technologies into marketable products and services in cooperation with OTM and in partnership with CTRP. ###
Paul Kovach

Steven Little Elected Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (July 16, 2015) … Steven Little , Associate Professor, CNG Faculty Fellow and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering, has been elected a Class of 2015 Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) . Founded in 1968, BMES is an interdisciplinary professional society for biomedical engineering and bioengineering. Fellow status is awarded to Society members who demonstrate exceptional achievements and experience in the field of biomedical engineering, and a record of membership and participation in the Society. Dr. Little holds eight US patents and provisional applications for patents including new methods to fabricate controlled release vehicles in a high throughput fashion; dissolvable synthetic-vasculature; novel complex delivery vehicles; and a description of the first degradable, artificial cell.  He has authored/co-authored 70 articles in highly prestigious archival journals in his fields of specialization (controlled release, biomimetic materials, tissue engineering/regenerative medicine and drug delivery). "Dr. Little's election as BMES Fellow recognizes his seminal contributions to bioengineering education and research during his academic career," noted Harvey Borovetz , Distinguished Professor and Former Chair of Bioengineering and the Robert L. Hardesty Professor of Surgery at Pitt, and BMES Fellow who nominated Dr. Little. "In addition to his remarkable achievements in his research, Dr. Little is a prolific classroom instructor whose courses are among the most highly rated in the Swanson School of Engineering. He is the mentor for numerous M.S. and Ph.D. candidates; his lab is a magnet for undergraduate students, with more than 40 undergraduate interns being mentored by Dr. Little to date.  We are very proud to recognize Dr. Steven Little as a Class of 2015 Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society." Dr. Little joins the ranks of several BMES Fellows at Pitt, including Dr. Borovetz; Clifford Brubaker , Distinguished Service Professor and Dean Emeritus of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences; Rory Cooper , FISA/PVA Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor of the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences; William Federspiel , the William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering; Sanjeev Shroff, Distinguished Professor and the Gerald E. McGinnis Chair in Bioengineering and Professor of Medicine; David Vorp , Associate Dean for Research in the Swanson School of Engineering and the William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering; William Wagner , Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Professor of Surgery, Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering; and Savio L-Y. Woo , Distinguished University Professor of Bioengineering and the Founder and Director of the Musculoskeletal Research Center (MSRC). More About Dr. Little Dr. Steven Little is Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, Immunology, Ophthalmology and The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a University Honors College Faculty Fellow. Dr. Little received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT in 2005, with his thesis winning the American Association for Advancement of Science's Excellence in Research Award. In May of 2012, Dr. Little was appointed as the 12th Chairman of the Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, one of the oldest Departments of its type in the world, dating back to 1910. In his first year on the Pitt faculty (2006), Dr. Little was appointed as a Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Engineering, the only Assistant Professor to hold this position. In 2007, he received career development awards from both the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health (K-Award). In 2008, Dr. Little was named as one of only 16 Beckman Young Investigators by the Arnold & Mabel Beckman Foundation. Dr. Little is the only individual from the University of Pittsburgh to have ever received this award. In 2009, he was presented with the Board of Visitors Award that denotes the "single most outstanding faculty member in the School of Engineering." In 2010, he received the Coulter Translational Research Award from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. In 2011, Dr. Little was named the recipient of the Society For Biomaterials' Young Investigator Award. In 2012, Dr. Little received the University of Pittsburgh's Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award, and by winning the 2013 Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award, Dr. Little stands as the only professor in School history to receive both the teaching and research awards. Dr. Little was also named as one of only 14 "Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholars" by the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation in 2013 and also was named the recipient of the Carnegie Science Award for University Educators that year. In 2014, Dr. Little was named the winner of the Research to Prevent Blindness Innovative Ophthalmic Research Award, the recipient of a Phase II Coulter Translational Award, named one of Pittsburgh Magazine's "40 under 40," and highlighted as one of only five individuals in Pittsburgh who are "reshaping our world" by Pop City Media. In 2015, Dr. Little was named the winner of the Carnegie Science Award for Advanced Materials, a Fast Tracker (University Leader category) by the Pittsburgh Business Times, a Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), and the winner of the 2015 Curtis W. McGraw Award from the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Dr. Little is also a Co-Founder of Qrono Inc. , which is a Pittsburgh-based start-up company that provides custom designed controlled release formulations for pharmaceutical companies, agricultural industry, and academic laboratories. About the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering The Swanson School's Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering serves undergraduate and graduate engineering students, the University and industry, through education, research, and participation in professional organizations and regional/national initiatives. The Department maintains a tradition of excellence in education and research, evidenced by recent national awards including numerous NSF CAREER Awards, a Beckman Young Investigator Award, an NIH Director's New Innovator Award, and the DOE Hydrogen Program R&D Award, among others. Active areas of research in the Department include Biological and Biomedical Systems; Energy and Sustainability; and Materials Modeling and Design. The faculty holds a record of success in obtaining research funding such that the Department ranks within the top 25 U.S. Chemical Engineering departments for Federal R&D spending in recent years with annual research expenditures exceeding $7 million. The vibrant research culture within the Department includes active collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Center for Simulation and Modeling, the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, the Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering and the U.S. DOE-affiliated Institute for Advanced Energy Solutions. ###
Paul Kovach

Pittsburgh entrepreneur Max Fedor appointed Director of Pitt’s Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program


PITTSBURGH (May 28, 2015) … To continue to expand the growth of translational biomedical research and commercialization at the University of Pittsburgh, the Swanson School of Engineering has named Max A. Fedor as Director of the Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program (Coulter Program). Mr. Fedor succeeds Pratap Khanwilkar, PhD, who joined InCube Labs, LLC , as Vice President for Product Development. "As a former Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Pittsburgh's Innovation Institute , as well as a well-respected business leader and entrepreneur, Max brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the Coulter Program," stated Sanjeev G. Shroff, PhD , the Principle Investigator of the Coulter Program and Distinguished Professor and the Gerald McGinnis Chair of Bioengineering at Pitt. "Most notably, his background in product development and early stage commercialization are critical to the continued success of the Coulter Program." Dr. Shroff continued, "During the first three years of the Coulter Program, we have invested ~$3.5 million to advance 15 promising biomedical technologies.  This investment has led to the formation of two companies and 5 options for licenses.  The establishment and success of this program is due in part to the strong leadership of our founding director, Pratap Khanwilkar.  We are very proud of his latest venture and know that he will contribute significantly to the growth of InCube Labs." Mr. Fedor hopes to build significantly upon the foundations of the Coulter Program.  He noted, "As a long standing member of the business community in this region, I have observed a real and growing commitment to innovation here at Pitt and to the translation of its technologies to commercialization, whether through licenses or new company formation.  I envision the Coulter Program growing to become a key center for vetting our advanced biomedical technologies for potential clinical adoption and capital investment, and a significant resource for our faculty researchers to develop the thought processes and materials that are needed to advance their innovations to real clinical products.  I am excited to be a part of these important efforts." Mr. Fedor has over 25 years of experience as a business leader and entrepreneur, with a focus on technology commercialization, general management and operations. Most recently, he was President and CEO of BIOSAFE, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based manufacturer of patented antimicrobial polymers, which he transitioned to a strategic investor in 2013 & 2014.  Prior to this, he served as Executive-in-Residence at the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, managing a portfolio of companies, while mentoring their leadership teams and directors.  Mr. Fedor has also held CEO and other senior level positions in a number of early stage companies, where he successfully developed and launched new medical technology products, raised investment capital and formed partnerships with industry leaders, such as Bayer, J&J and Alstom. Mr. Fedor earned a bachelor's degree in Engineering and Applied Sciences from Harvard College and an MBA from the Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business. About the Coulter Program The Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program (Coulter Program) is a campus-wide effort led by Pitt's Department of Bioengineering, Swanson School of Engineering to identify, select, fund, and mentor translational biomedical research projects and promote commercialization at the University. This translational research is accomplished by clinician-(bio)engineer teams that address unmet clinical needs through innovative medical technologies. The University was awarded a $3.54 million grant from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation in fall 2011 (one of only six awards nationwide), supplemented by $1.665 million in matching funds from the University's Swanson School of Engineering, School of Medicine, and Innovation Institute. Teams competing for Coulter Program funding are required to participate with Pitt MBA and School of Law students in a four-month "From Benchtop to Bedside" course. This course is designed to teach researchers how to develop key deliverables such as a business model, business plan, product development plan and investment pitch, which are necessary to assess the clinical and commercial potential of each technology. The projects are then evaluated and selected by the Coulter Program's Oversight Committee and mentored by advisors, comprised of clinicians experienced in translation, business leaders accomplished in medical device commercialization including regulatory affairs and reimbursement, large medical device company representatives, and local and national angel investors and venture capitalists. About the Department of Bioengineering at the Swanson School of Engineering Bioengineering is the application of engineering principles to analyze native biological systems and to design and manufacture tools, structures, and processes for solving problems in the life sciences. Successful patient-focused and commercialization-oriented collaborations between engineers and physicians who traditionally employ differing methodologies are critical to the burgeoning field and to regional economic development. Pitt's Department of Bioengineering, established in 1998 as part of the Swanson School of Engineering and ranked as one of the nation's top bioengineering programs, is credited for developing many major biomedical technologies: cardiac-assist device for infants, a blood-treatment tool that can free patients from ventilator dependence, materials that help regenerate various tissues and organs, to name a few. ###
Paul Kovach

Swanson School names George Stetten and Götz Veser as Outstanding Educators of the Year

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum

Pictured from left: George Stetten and Götz Veser PITTSBURGH (May 1, 2015) … In recognition of excellence in teaching for the 2014-2015 academic year, the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering presented George D. Stetten, MD, PhD and Götz Veser, PhD with its Outstanding Educator Award at the School's annual Senior Recognition Ceremony on Saturday, April 25. Dr. Stetten is Professor of Bioengineering and Dr. Veser is the Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. "The Swanson School's Outstanding Teaching Award is highly competitive, and is judged upon faculty commitment to excellence in the classroom as well as assessment and professional development," noted Gerald D. Holder, PhD, the Swanson School's U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering. "Student evaluations play an important role in determining our Outstanding Educators, and this year's results were outstanding. I congratulate George and Götz for their dedication to our students and to the engineering profession." Dr. Veser earned his PhD from the Fritz-Haber-Institute of the Max-Planck-Society in Berlin, Germany, and previously was the A.v. Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis). He later held positions at the University of Stuttgart and at the Max-Planck-Institute for Coal Research, both in Germany, before joining the University of Pittsburgh in 2002. His main research area is catalytic reaction engineering with a focus on clean energy technology and fuel processing applications. Dr. Veser also serves as associate director of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Energy. In 2014 he received the James Pommersheim Award for Excellence in Teaching in Chemical Engineering by his Department. Dr. Stetten received his MD from State University of New York and PhD from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. He serves as Director of the Visualization and Image Analysis (VIA) Laboratory at the Swanson School, and as Research Professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute. His research areas include in situ image guided intervention, haptics, and image analysis. Dr. Stetten holds nine patents for medical devices such as the Sonic Flashlight TM , which merges real-time images from ultrasound with direct human vision, and the Hand Held Force Magnifier, which provides surgeons with a heighted sense of force at the tip of microsurgery devices. He is also the creator of the Swanson School's Music Engineering Laboratory (MEL), a professional-quality recording facility where engineering students learn about the technical aspects of musical instruments and recording, and work on projects to expand their own musical interests and experience through a one-semester, one-credit honors course, Music Engineering. ###  
Paul Kovach

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Bioengineering By The Numbers


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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 


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