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 187 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.

Mar
14
2019

Renerva Receives $2.4 Million DoD Award to Advance Its Peripheral Nerve Matrix Technology to the Clinic

Bioengineering

Renerva, LLC, a medical device company whose technology is based on research from the University of Pittsburgh (Bryan Brown) and Cornell University (Jonathan Cheetham), received a $2.4 million award from the U.S. Department of Defense.Click here to read the original article. PITTSBURGH, Dec. 14, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --  Renerva, LLC, a medical device company developing innovative technology for peripheral nerve injuries, announced today that they have received $2.4 million in nondilutive financing from the U.S. Department of Defense through a Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC) Award (https://mtec-sc.org/press-releases/). Renerva's first product, peripheral nerve matrix (PNM), is an injectable gel derived from porcine tissue that promotes and supports repair and regeneration in injured peripheral nerves. The award will enable Renerva to complete its preclinical program and begin human clinical trials. PNM has the potential to play a significant role in accelerating and improving structural and functional recovery following different modalities of nerve injury. "Remarkably, based on the impact shown in several animal studies, PNM has the potential to return functionality to patients that are left otherwise disabled from different types of nerve injury," noted Chief Technology Officer Dr. Bryan Brown, who holds equity in the company and also serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering and the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. Renerva's PNM technology is based on 4 years of research in Dr. Brown's laboratory and the laboratory of Dr. Jonathan Cheetham, Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences at Cornell University and Chair of Renerva's Scientific Advisory Board.  PNM is protected by five patents licensed from the University of Pittsburgh and Cornell University. "With 20 million patients suffering from different types of peripheral nerve injuries in the U.S. alone, our technology has the potential to treat a broad range of nerve injuries. A peripheral nerve surgeon enthusiastically called PNM the 'Neosporin® of Nerve Repair', hinting at its broad potential and widespread adoption," said Lorenzo Soletti, PhD, MBA, Chief Executive Officer of Renerva. "Our commercial rollout will first focus on PNM as an adjunct treatment for existing surgical procedures to repair or release traumatically or chronically injured peripheral nerves. That market will then be expanded to treat patients affected by nerve injury through ultrasound or image-guided delivery of PNM to the affected nerves." Renerva's Chief Medical Officer, Paul Gardner, MD, said, "While our initial clinical focus for PNM is in the upper extremities, which are associated with the highest incidence of traumatic nerve injuries, I treat many patients affected by nerve injuries in the head and neck as a result of tumors, traumatic injuries and other conditions. Facial nerve injuries have a very debilitating social impact on patients as the face is so intimately involved in our nonverbal communication and appearance. Indeed, nerve injury affects everything from facial sensation to swallowing and speech.  Giving these patients even a portion of their function back would make a world of difference. Enhancing the ability of a nerve to heal would represent a true paradigm shift in this space." Dr. Gardner holds equity in the company and is an Associate Professor in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery and the Executive Vice Chair of Surgical Services and Neurosurgical Director of the UPMC Center for Cranial Base Surgery. "Renerva combines solid IP and innovative science with broad applicability to several clinical applications, and has a management team that has the experience, dedication, and passion to bring this technology to patients," said Pete DeComo, Chairman and CEO of ALung Technologies, Inc. and member of Renerva's Board of Managers. "Renerva has a platform core technology with the potential to ameliorate several conditions of the peripheral nerve system in a space ripe for adoption of new therapeutic solutions." About Renerva, LLC.Renerva is a medical device company developing solutions for peripheral nerve injuries and damage. Renerva's initial therapeutic focus is on the 500,000 Americans suffering from acute nerve injuries every year, with other indications including the treatment of chronic compressive nerve injuries and other conditions affecting the peripheral nerves. Privately held, Renerva is headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. To learn more or stay in touch, please visit www.renerva.com. About MTECMTEC is a biomedical technology consortium collaborating with multiple government agencies under a 10-year renewable Other Transaction Agreement with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.  To find out more about MTEC, visit mtec-sc.org. Media Contact InformationLorenzo Soletti(412) 841-7966206433@email4pr.com Related Links https://www.renerva.com
Renerva, LLC
Mar
12
2019

The ups and downs of sit-stand desks: Pitt bioengineer Dr. April Chambers compiles studies to examine the comprehensive benefits of the popular accessory

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (March 12, 2018) … Have a seat. No, wait! Stand. With researchers suggesting that “sitting is the new smoking,” sit-stand desks (SSD) have become a common tool to quell sedentary behavior in an office environment. As this furniture becomes ubiquitous, conflicting opinions have arisen on its effectiveness. The University of Pittsburgh’s Dr. April Chambers worked with collaborators to gather data from 53 studies and published a scoping review article detailing current information on the benefits of SSDs. “There has been a great deal of scientific research about sit-stand desks in the past few years, but we have only scratched the surface of this topic,” said Chambers, assistant professor of bioengineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “With my background in occupational injury prevention, I wanted to gather what we know so far and figure out the next steps for how can we use these desks to better benefit people in the workplace.” This work was done in collaboration with Dr. Nancy A. Baker, associate professor of occupational therapy at Tufts University, and Dr. Michelle M. Robertson, executive director for the Office Ergonomics Research Committee (OERC). The scoping review, published recently in Applied Ergonomics (DOI: 10.1016/j.apergo.2019.01.015), examines the effects of a sit-stand desk in the following domains: behavior, physiological, work performance, psychological, discomfort, and posture. “The study found only minimal impacts on any of those areas, the strongest being changes in behavior and discomfort,” said Baker. Their work showed that use of a SSD effectively got participants to sit less and stand more and that the device made users more comfortable at work. However, many frustrations with SSDs stem from the physiological outcomes. Early adopters were fed the idea that these desks would be the miracle cure for obesity, but users were not achieving the results they expected. According to the review, physiological effects were the most studied, but within that domain, there were no significant results with regards to obesity. “There are health benefits to using sit-stand desks, such as a small decrease in blood pressure or low back pain relief, but people simply are not yet burning enough calories to lose weight with these devices,” said Chambers. “Though these are mild benefits, certain populations might benefit greatly from even a small change in their health. In order to achieve positive outcomes with sit-stand desks, we need a better understanding of how to properly use them; like any other tool, you have to use it correctly to get the full benefits out of it.” There are many considerations to most effectively use a SSD, such as desk height, monitor height, amount of time standing, or the use of an anti-fatigue mat. Chambers believes that workplace setup and dosage are two factors that should be further studied. “There are basic ergonomic concepts that seem to be overlooked,” said Chambers. “Many workers receive sit-stand desks and start using them without direction. I think proper usage will differ from person to person, and as we gather more research, we will be better able to suggest dosage for a variety of workers.” Chambers noted that the current research is limited because many of studies were done with young and healthy subjects who were asked to use the desk for a week or month at most. Since some of the significant benefits are with cardiovascular health or muscle discomfort, it may be beneficial to perform additional studies with middle-aged or overweight workers. “There is still more to learn about sit-stand desks,” said Chambers. “The science is catching up so let’s use what we’ve studied in this area to advance the research and answer some of these pressing questions so that people can use sit-stand desks correctly and get the most benefit from them.” ###

Mar
12
2019

2019 Carnegie Science Awards include six honorees from the Swanson School of Engineering

Bioengineering, Civil & Environmental

PITTSBURGH (March 12, 2019) ... Each year, Carnegie Science Center celebrates some of the Pittsburgh region’s most inspiring science and technology innovators with the Carnegie Science Awards. Today, the Science Center announced the recipient of the Chairman’s Award and the winners and honorable mentions in 16 categories, who will be celebrated at the 23rd Annual Carnegie Science Awards Celebration on Friday, May 10, 2019. Carnegie Science Award winners are selected by a committee of peers—both past awardees and industry leaders—who rigorously reviewed more than 200 nominations and selected the most deserving scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs, communicators, educators, and students whose contributions have led to significant economic or societal benefit in western Pennsylvania. This year’s exceptional innovators include a tuition-free technical education program that has connected thousands of unemployed and underemployed individuals to a job and living wage; a graduate student who trains residents in under-served neighborhoods to identify environmental concerns in their homes; a team that created an open-source database that will assist research teams in taking energy-saving action to reduce methane leaks; and the fastest-growing food recovery organization in the country whose app brings fresh food to those who need it most. “The Carnegie Science Awards provide an opportunity to celebrate the remarkably talented individuals and organizations in our region’s science community,” said Jason Brown, Henry Buhl, Jr., Interim Director of Carnegie Science Center. “These innovators have had immeasurable impact on Pittsburgh’s healthcare, manufacturing, energy, environmental, and education industries. Their achievements, dedication, and perseverance are truly inspiring.” Winners and honorable mentions along with three student winners who will be selected later this month at the Covestro Pittsburgh Regional Science & Engineering Fair, will be honored during the 23rd Annual Carnegie Science Awards Celebration at Carnegie Science Center on Friday, May 10, 2019. The Swanson School recipients include: Life Sciences: Dr. William J. Federspiel, William Kepler Whiteford Professor in the Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh Dr. Federspiel is an internationally recognized pioneer, innovator, and technical expert in the medical devices arena. His research has led to the design and development of novel artificial lung devices, membrane and particle-based blood purification devices, and oxygen depletion devices for blood storage systems. His success lies in his commitment to ensure that each project begins with and is supported by a strong foundation in life science and engineering. His contributions have strengthened Pittsburgh’s stance as a hub for medical device development and manufacturing, and his work has led to the formation of new companies that provide more than 50 high-tech jobs to the Western Pennsylvania region. Leadership in Career and Technical Education: University of Pittsburgh Manufacturing Assistance Center Since 1994, the University of Pittsburgh Manufacturing Assistance Center (MAC) has connected thousands of people with meaningful careers in manufacturing. The programs at MAC are accelerated and often available at no cost to the students, so unemployed and underemployed individuals can be connected to a job and a living wage in as little as six weeks. In addition, MAC has strengthened career pathways for high school students across Southwestern Pennsylvania by offering certification opportunities to partnering high schools and career and technical centers. With the opening of the MAC Makerspace in 2018, MAC has provided a place for future manufacturers to engage with technological tools and resources that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. College/University Student: Harold Rickenbacker, Swanson School Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation While pursuing his PhD at the University of Pittsburgh, Harold has integrated engineering and environmental justice with community-based organizations to address the pressing issue of indoor and ambient air quality in under-served Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Through an initiative in Pittsburgh’s East End called the Environmental Justice Community Alert Matrix, Harold led trainings to provide over 200 residents with the technical knowledge to identify environmental concerns within their homes, while detailing the importance of addressing environmental sustainability at the nexus of water use, energy consumption, and air pollution. Harold is committed to paying it forward, and his efforts are improving the health and quality of life of the communities he works with for years to come. Honorable Mentions: Postsecondary Educator – Bryan Brown, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering College/University Student – Alexis Nolfi BSBioE ‘11 BSPsych ‘11, Department of Bioengineering PhD Candidate Science Communicator – Paul Kovach, Director of Marketing and Communications, Swanson School of Engineering About Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh Established 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 2017, the museums reached more than 1.4 million people through exhibitions, educational programs, outreach activities, and special events. ###
Kaitlyn Zurcher, Carnegie Science Center Senior Manager of Marketing
Feb
28
2019

Swanson School Undergrad Kaylene Stocking Wins the University’s Top Student Award for Scholarship

Bioengineering, Electrical & Computer, Student Profiles

Click here to view the PittWire Accolade. PITTSBURGH (February 28, 2019) … The 43rd annual Honors Convocation recognized the academic achievements of nearly 3,700 students and 478 faculty members, including the University’s highest awards for undergraduate students. The Emma W. Locke Award, given to a graduating senior in recognition of high scholarship, character and devotion to the ideals of the University of Pittsburgh, went to the Swanson School of Engineering’s Kaylene Stocking. “We are very proud of Kaylene’s accomplishments,” said Sanjeev Shroff, Distinguished Professor and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair of Bioengineering. “She has effectively leveraged Swanson School resources and her own ingenuity to achieve academic excellence within and outside of the classroom and make impactful contributions to the University community. We know she has a bright, successful future ahead!” Stocking is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in both bioengineering and computer engineering. Her research has led to three journal publications, two presentations and a Goldwater Scholarship honorable mention. She is also an undergraduate teaching assistant, an Honors College ambassador and member of the Pitt orchestra. For the past two years, she has been working in the BIONIC Lab led by Takashi D. Y. Kozai, assistant professor of bioengineering. Her work focuses on how researchers can improve the longevity of neural implant technology. "It has been an amazing experience to work with Kaylene,” said Kozai. “Her off-the-cuff insights into projects and scientific discussion as well as her simultaneous bird's-eye view perspective and understanding of how each individual piece of data fits into the larger story has been a major driving force in our research lab." Stocking plans to continue her education after graduating this spring. Regarding her time at Pitt, she said, “I'm so grateful for the many opportunities I've had thanks to the amazing Engineering and Honors College communities. I'd like to thank my professors, mentors, family, and friends for their encouragement and support over the last four years.” ###

Feb
25
2019

BioE Alumna Sossena Wood Featured on NBC

Bioengineering

Reposted from PittWire. Read the original here. Sossena Wood, a Pitt alumna twice over who most recently earned a Doctor of Philosophy in bioengineering in 2018, developed a realistic phantom head for magnetic resonance research while at the Swanson School of Engineering. Now, Wood and her research are featured in NBC News Learn’s new online video collection “Discovering You: Engineering Your World.” Debuting during National Engineers Week, which runs through Feb. 23, the series highlights the careers of engineers in a variety of sectors and offers insights to the next generation of students. The video segment on Wood’s research delves into her work while she was a doctoral student at Pitt. She is now a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University. Read more about her work and watch the NBC segment.

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