Tulane's Department of Biomedical Engineering has a long history of performing a wide variety of research problems using traditional engineering expertise to analyze and solve problems in biology and medicine. Our department has particular expertise in the following biomedical engineering domains*:
Biomaterials include both living tissue and artificial materials used for implantation and to foster cell function. Understanding the properties and behavior of living material is vital in the design of implant materials. The selection of an appropriate material to place in the human body is a complex task, with newer biomaterials incorporating living cells in order to provide a true biological and mechanical match for the living tissue. Research in this area is conducted by Dr. Moore, who studies neuro-generation primarily of the optic nerve (see below).
Biomechanics applies classical mechanics (statics, dynamics, fluids, solids, thermodynamics, and continuum mechanics) to biological or medical problems. It includes the study of motion, material deformation and flows. These can influence the macro-scale and micro-scale stresses that can impact biological function at the organ, cell, and sub-cellular level. Research in this area is conducted by Drs. Ahsan, Anderson, Gaver, Khismatullin, Miller and Murfee.
Biophotonics involves applications which leverage the interactions of light energy with tissue or biological materials, including phenomena such asabsorption, scattering, luminescence, and reflectance. These applications may be therapeutic or diagnostic (or both, i.e. "theranostics"), and employ a wide array of optical spectroscopy and imaging tools specifically engineered for application in biomedical problems. Research in this area is conducted by Dr. Brown, who develops and applies quantitative spectroscopy and imaging tools to cancer diagnosis and improvement of cancer therapy.
Biotransport relates to physical and biological processes that govern molecular and convective transport of substances within biological systems. These transport processes may be passive (convection, diffusion) or active (such as with sodium-potassium pumps), wherein energy is expended to move material against a concentration gradient. Research in this area is conducted by Drs. Gaver, Khismatullin, and Murfee.
Cell-Tissue and Genetic Engineering utilizes the anatomy, biochemistry and mechanics of cellular and sub-cellular structures in order to understand disease processes and to intervene at very specific sites. With these capabilities, bio-mimetic structures can be fabricated and investigated to understand the basics of physiological (dys)function, or devices can be designed and used to deliver chemical, mechanical or electrical stimuli that can influence cellular processes at precise target locations. This can develop knowledge related to physiological processes in development and disease, or can lead to techniques to promote healing or inhibit disease formation and progression. Research in this area is conducted by Drs. Ahsan, Gaver, Murfee, and Moore.
Design is the application of mechanics, materials, and electronics to develop devices used in diagnosis and treatment of disease. Computers are an essential part of bioinstrumentation, from the embedded controller in a single-purpose instrument to the multicore array needed to process thelarge amount of information in a medical imaging system. Microfluidics allows manipulation and analysis of minute amounts of biological samples, and thus enables the design and fabrication of low-cost, miniaturized devices for point-of-care clinical diagnostics. Research in this area is conducted by Professors Anderson, Walker and Gilbertson.
*Definitions adapted from BMES (www.bmes.org)
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