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.

Aug
3
2020

Bioengineering Undergrads Receive BMES Outstanding Chapter Industry Program Award

Bioengineering, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (Aug. 3, 2020) … For many students, part of a fulfilling undergraduate experience is engaging with like-minded peers and interacting with professionals who can help guide and advance their careers. Bioengineering undergraduates at the University of Pittsburgh cultivate these connections through the student chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), and the group was recently recognized for their efforts. BMES awarded Pitt’s undergraduate chapter the 2020 Outstanding Chapter Industry Program Award, which recognizes “chapters who demonstrate outstanding partnership with industries in their community.” It also acknowledges groups that “go above and beyond by creating joint programs with academic and industry leaders in the BME field in order to give their members a headstart upon graduation.” Pitt BMES’ interactions with local industry along with professional development activities throughout the year landed them the highest score among a nationally competitive roster. “Through professional networking events, social outings, and outreach opportunities, we have helped solidify a true undergraduate biomedical engineering community that makes students’ time at Pitt both more valuable and enjoyable,” said Tyler Bray (BioE BS ‘20), who led the chapter as president during the 2019-2020 academic year. The group provides an opportunity to learn and network with local leaders in the field through biomedical industry site visits, clinical and industrial panel presentations, and networking dinners with both industry and academic professionals. “Networking is an essential part of what we do in our chapter of BMES,” said Daniela Krahe, a senior bioengineering student at Pitt and the elected president for the 2020-2021 academic year. “It gives students the confidence to navigate the post-grad career life and helps build their professional skills. When they graduate, they are less anxious about their first job in bioengineering because they’ve already been exposed to many aspects of industry.” Among the professional development opportunities is a career fair tailored to bioengineering students. This past year, they hosted 11 companies who offered cooperative education, internship, and full-time positions. More than 150 students attended the 2019 event, and the group plans to make the 2020 event even larger. “Organizing the 2019 career fair was very rewarding, and working with the leadership team, particularly Tyler, on the career fair was a blast. The enthusiasm shown by the BMES officers was indeed invigorating and a key aspect in the event’s success,”  said Arash Mahboobin, assistant professor of bioengineering, BMES chapter advisor, and director of the undergraduate program. “Considering that close to half of our graduates opt for an industry position, this award is very timely and, in my opinion, deserved as it reflects the tremendous effort our undergraduate BMES chapter leadership team has put in place towards partnering with industry leaders. I am extremely proud of this achievement and applaud Pitt BMES’ efforts wholeheartedly,” he continued. The chapter provided additional professional development opportunities such as mock interviews, resume reviews, and Bioengineering Day -- a research showcase and networking event, in collaboration with the graduate BMES chapter. These events gave students more opportunities to connect with faculty and prepare for life after graduation. “BMES has opened up a lot of professional doors for me, and I’m really excited we were able to continue doing that for our peers this year,” said Bray. “BMES strives to provide an all-around experience for the bioengineers at Pitt, and this year we focused on amplifying our exposure to industry. “We’re fortunate to have top-notch talent in Pittsburgh and around the country, from startup co-founders to design engineers at Fortune 500 companies, who all love to be involved with Pitt BMES,” he continued. “Our student body, myself included, has a jump-start on our careers because of the relationship-building opportunities BMES has facilitated with these awesome industry partners.” As the winning chapter, the undergraduate group will be asked to lead a best practice panel at the virtual BMES Annual Meeting in October 2020. They will also participate in a webinar featuring their successes. # # #

Jul
23
2020

Infant Heart-Assist Pump Secures $4.7M from the DOD

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (July 23, 2020) … The Center for Disease Control estimates that roughly 40,000 infants are born with congenital heart defects (CHDs) each year. Among that population, 25 percent are critical cases that require cardiac surgery. The waitlist for a heart transplant continues to grow; yet, the only FDA-approved life-saving device for CHD has shortcomings and is based on technology from the 1970s. A multi-institutional team, including faculty and students from the Swanson School of Engineering (SSoE) and McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine (MIRM), recently received funding to advance this technology. The PediaFlow® Ventricular Assist Device (VAD), a heart-assist pump for infants and young children, received a $4.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The device, originally developed at the University of Pittsburgh, is intended to support patients with congenital and/or acquired heart disease. James Antaki, the Susan K. McAdam Professor of Heart Assist Technology at Cornell University’s Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, will lead the project’s development and preclinical validation. (See Cornell University’s announcement) “It is a new lease on life for this device for children who have no other alternative,” said Antaki. The device is a miniaturized, magnetically levitated, rotary VAD that is roughly the size of a AA battery and can provide sufficient blood flow for infants and small children. Implantation of the device could also potentially rehabilitate a child’s heart back to health, thus obviating the need for a cardiac transplant. The project began in 2002 at Pitt and builds upon blood pump technology developed by several SSoE and MIRM faculty and students over the past decade. After evaluating three pump topologies, the research group chose a mixed-flow configuration and applied a computational fluid dynamics approach to optimize the design from the point of view of outstanding biocompatibility. Bench and preclinical studies have demonstrated outstanding biocompatibility of the PediaFlow VAD. “Despite the clinician mantra that ‘babies are not just tiny adults,’ pediatric heart pump development has been historically limited to the miniaturization of existing adult devices with minimal success,” said Salim Olia (BioE PhD ’18), adjunct assistant professor of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Olia conducted the crucial bench and preclinical PediaFlow tests as part of his PhD dissertation in the Department of Bioengineering at Pitt and is continuing his work for the DoD award. “PediaFlow represents a clean slate approach of designing from the ground up with the primary objective of maximizing patient safety by minimizing blood damage,” he continued. Pitt’s subcontract on this DoD award is a collaboration between SSoE and MIRM. In particular, Marina Kameneva, research professor of surgery and bioengineering, and William Wagner, director of the McGowan Institute and distinguished professor of surgery, bioengineering and chemical engineering, will direct studies assessing the biocompatibility and overall suitability of the PediaFlow pumps developed under the DoD award for clinical use. According to Harvey Borovetz, Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering and the Robert L. Hardesty Professor of Surgery, “It is our goal at the end of the three-year DoD award to have completed development of the PediaFlow heart-assist pump, in anticipation of submitting an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) application to the FDA and initiating clinical feasibility studies in these very special patients.” # # #

Jul
20
2020

In Memoriam: John C. "Jack" Mascaro BSCE ’66 MSCE ’80, 1944-2020

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS, Student Profiles, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

From James R. Martin II, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering: It is with great sadness to inform you that Jack Mascaro BSCE ’66 MSCE ’80, one of our outstanding alumni, volunteers, advocates, and benefactors, passed away this weekend after a hard-fought battle with illness. On behalf of our Swanson School community, I extend our deep condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.Jack was a creative, caring juggernaut of ideas and inspiration, and his passing leaves an emptiness in our hearts and minds. It was an incredible honor and privilege to work with him during my short tenure as dean thus far, but I know those of you who have a long history with Jack and his family experienced a deep connection and now share a tremendous loss. I hope your memories of his lighthearted spirit, curious intellect, and enthusiasm for our students and programs provide solace and smiles.As one of our Distinguished Alumni, Jack was lauded by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the School for his contributions to Pitt, the region, and the profession, and was also honored by the University with the Chancellor’s Medallion. Thanks to his beneficence, the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and our focus on sustainability will continue his legacy for generations. Most importantly, it was his passion for sustainability, and what he saw as its inexorable link to engineering, that will forever inform our mission to create new knowledge for the benefit of the human condition. He truly was an engineer’s engineer, and we can never thank him and his family enough for his generosity of mind and spirit. Please join me in expressing our sympathies to the Mascaro Family, and to thank them for Jack’s impact on our students, alumni, and entire Swanson School community. Visitation will be held this Thursday in McMurray and you may leave thoughts for the family at his obituary page. Sincerely,Jimmy Other Remembrances Some Random and Personal Observations. Jeffrey Burd, Tall Timber Group & Breaking Ground Magazine (7-21-20). Jack Mascaro, founder of one of Pittsburgh's largest construction firms, dies at 76. Tim Schooley, Pittsburgh Business Times (7-22-20). Pittsburgh builder and sustainability pioneer Jack Mascaro dies after long illness. Paul Guggenheimer, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (7-23-20). John C. 'Jack' Mascaro / Builder of Heinz Field, science center embraced 'green' construction. Janice Crompton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (7-27-20). Founder of Mascaro Construction, Heinz Field builder, dies at age 75. Harry Funk, Washington Observer-Reporter (8-1-20).

Jul
9
2020

Pitt’s Center for Medical Innovation awards three novel biomedical projects with $60,000 in Round 1 2020 Pilot Funding

Bioengineering

PITTSBURGH (July 1, 2020) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $60,000 to three research groups through its 2020 Round-1 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest funding proposals include a virus-resistant wear-resistant textile, a system for removal of cell-free plasma hemoglobin in extracorporeal therapies, and a biocontainment unit for reducing viral transmission to healthcare workers and patients 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 eighth 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: “Wash-Stable and Mechanically Durable Anti-Virofouling Medical Textiles”For the development of a nanoparticle-based reusable textile for use in healthcare settings. Paul W. Leu, PhD;  Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering, Swanson School of EngineeringRobert Shanks , PhD  Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, UPMC                                                 Eric Romanowski, MS,  Research Director, Charles T. Campbell Laboratory of Ophthalmic Microbiolog AWARD 2: “Targeted removal of cell-free plasma hemoglobin in extracorporeal therapies” For an extracorporeal hemoperfusion device that removes plasma hemoglobin from a blood column using treated porous beads. Nahmah Kim-Campbell, MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Critical Care Medicine and PediatricsWilliam Federspiel, PhD; Professor of Bioengineering, Swanson School of EngineeringRyan Orizondo, PhD  Researcher in Bioenengineering, Swanson School of Engineerin AWARD 3: “Individual Biocontainment Unit for Reducing Viral Transmission to healthcare Workers and Patients”For the expedited development, approval and manufacture of a novel device for use with ICU patients to reduce contamination by aerosolized particles. David M. Turer, MD, MS Department of Plastic Surgery, UPMCHeng Ban, PhD; Professor Mechanical Engineering and Material Science, Swanson School of EngineeringJ.Peter Rubin, MD;  Chairman, Dept of Plastic Surgery, UPMC # # # About the University of Pittsburgh Center for Medical Innovation The Center for Medical Innovation is a collaboration among the Swanson School of Engineering, the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the Innovation Institute, and the Coulter Translational Research Partnership II (CTRP). CMI was established in 2012 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. Over 70 early-stage projects have been supported by CMI with a total investment of over $1.4 million since inception.

Jul
8
2020

Two Swanson School Projects Secure 2020 Pitt Seed Funding

All SSoE News, Bioengineering

Click here to read Pittwire’s original story about all eleven awards. PITTSBURGH (July 8, 2020) … The University of Pittsburgh created the Pitt Seed Grant to support faculty and staff proposals that advance the six goals in the Plan for Pitt. Eleven projects, including two from the Swanson School of Engineering, received funding in the 2020 award cycle. “Our call for proposals received a great response—and I congratulate this year’s grantees. Many of the projects funded this year reflect our continued commitment to social justice and active outreach to communities in need,” said Ann E. Cudd, provost and senior vice chancellor. “We have committed support to projects that reflect our deep interest in further exploring ways to evaluate teaching effectiveness, as well as to probe innovations in both the advising and remote learning spaces. All of this is important work—and I am very excited to support these extremely interesting initiatives.” The Swanson School’s Department of Bioengineering received two awards for projects that enhance research collaborations and extend student experiences beyond the classroom. “I want to congratulate Brandon and Joe on receiving the Pitt Seed Funding. Engineering at its core involves designing solutions to real-world problems,” said Sanjeev Shroff, distinguished professor and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair of Bioengineering. “One of the critical aspects of learning is the ability to apply scientific and technical knowledge to creative design, and both of these projects will provide our students hands-on experiences and the opportunity to apply their knowledge outside of the classroom setting.” The winning bioengineering proposal summaries are: XProjects Applied Research XPlorationBrandon Barber, BioE design, innovation and outreach coordinator The purpose of the XProjects Applied Research XPloration (XARX) is to further develop the Pitt XProject program’s internal research collaborations and explore new applications of ongoing research, while simultaneously providing students with co-curricular design/engineering experiences that go beyond the classroom. The diverse multidisciplinary teams employ a rigorous process and a proven suite of tools to navigate fast-paced project work, all while gaining practice with project management, prototyping and negotiating stakeholder-client relationships. This innovative approach to design education also creates an environment where students can gain the experience they need to more confidently approach and define complex problems. Classroom to Community: Designing and Inventing for Real-World ImpactJoseph Samosky, assistant professor Classroom to Community is for students who want to creatively design and invent solutions for real-world problems and needs. Space, resources and mentorship will be provided for students to learn powerful human-centered design tools and methods, build bridges with community partners and create diverse teams from different backgrounds, majors and schools. Together we will co-create an engaging, multidisciplinary experience for students to explore, envision, share and learn from faculty partners and each other as they translate their ideas into something new in the world that benefits others. The project’s ultimate goals are to foster a culture of innovation, agency and service; empower students to discover their creative potential; and become agents of positive change. # # #

Upcoming Events


back
view more