The Institute of Biomedical Engineering (iBME) provides a unique opportunity for the University of Tennessee to respond to the growing demand for education and research opportunities in the rapidly expanding field of biomedical engineering. Researchers from the partnered organizations work collaboratively with scientists, physicians, faculty, and students from many UT disciplines to research today’s medical problems, resulting in better healthcare for the state and beyond.
The research goals for iBME include: generating cross-disciplinary teams to seek extramural funding, providing a supportive team environment for the development of new faculty, facilitating cross-disciplinary communication across geographic barriers, and developing and maintaining a strategic plan to maximize impact. These goals aim to develop healthcare innovations, discover new research funding, and provide a regional resource to improve the general public’s understanding of biomedical engineering.
“Engineering solutions to enhance life.”
Fundamental knowledge in both molecular biology and genetics has triggered a strong national need for convergence of transdisciplinary research in the biomedical sciences, as illustrated in Figure 1. The iBME at the University of Tennessee has been established to facilitate convergence through a set of common themes, fostering transdisciplinary interactions, establishing effective organizational structures and governance, addressing faculty development and promotion needs, creating transdisciplinary curriculum development and training for graduate students, forming stakeholder partnerships, and obtaining sustainable funding. Through its establishment, it is expected that the level of human knowledge will increase, new technologies will be provided, human health will be advanced, and there will be economic development in Tennessee and the nation.
Figure 1: Convergence revolution1
The institute’s integration of engineering and medicine unites diverse campuses across the state in cross-disciplinary translational research and development. There are conflicting definitions of translational research in the literature, so iBME will utilize the meaning put forth by the Evaluation Committee of the Association for Clinical Research Training (ACRT), where this research is divided into three types (T1, T2, and T3):2
Translational research fosters the multidirectional integration of basic research, patient-oriented research, and population-based research, with the long-term aim of improving the health of the public. T1 research expedites the movement between basic research and patient-oriented research that leads to new or improved scientific understanding or standards of care. T2 research facilitates the movement between patient-oriented research and population-based research that leads to better patient outcomes, the implementation of best practices, and improved health status in communities. T3 research promotes interaction between laboratory-based research and population-based research to stimulate a robust scientific understanding of human health and disease.
Researchers and clinicians from the University’s College of Engineering; Graduate School of Medicine; College of Veterinary Medicine; UT Space Institute; UT Health Science Center; College of Communications and Information; College of Educational, Health, and Human Sciences; College of Arts and Sciences; College of Business Administration; and College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources work collaboratively to research today’s medical problems, resulting in better healthcare for the state and beyond. Through the institute, students and faculty are strengthened in their pursuit of world-class biomedical research.
The faculty’s diverse specialties cover the full length scale of biomedical engineering — Health Care Organization Scale; Patient, Organ, and Tissue Scale; Cellular and Molecular Scale — with specialized work groups established within each length scale.
Health Care Organization Scale
Healthcare Engineering and Bioinformatics (HEB)
The application of the latest biomedical engineering research in the enhancement of the healthcare field, specifically process modeling and optimization, healthcare delivery, assistive technologies, patient informatics, and diagnostic and treatment protocols.
Core Competencies: Healthcare Systems Engineering | Operating Room Scheduling | Simulation | Quantitative Research Methodology | Epidemiologic Methods and Study Design | Computer Vision | Sensor Fusion | Data Mining | Health Care Delivery | Combinatorics and Graph Theory | High Performance Computation | Healthcare Informatics | Machine Learning | Bioinformatics | Information Retrieval | Scientific Computing | Surgery | Trauma | Critical Care | Nutrition | Neurology | Pharmacotherapy
Systems Modeling and Simulation (SMS)
Research and development pursuit in systemic physiologic modeling as well as detailed high fidelity modeling of specific regions and functions in order to better understand patient responses to treatment, new technology for improved patient care and well-being, and enhanced simulation.
Core Competencies: Human Head Modeling | Subarachnoid Space Behavior | Physiology Modeling | Traumatic Brain Injury | Mathematical and Multiscale Modeling | Computational Biology | Systems Biology | Modeling, Simulation and Optimization of Health Systems | Musculoskeletal Modeling | Dynamical Systems | Acute Inflammation and Immunology | Model Predictive Control | Simulation in Education and Training of Healthcare Personnel | Integration of Information Services and Resources into Clinical Decision Making
Patient, Organ, and Tissue Scale
Medical Sensors and Devices (MSD)
The development of novel sensors and devices enabling diagnostic and therapeutic applications in both normal and diseased physiologic structures and systems, assistive technologies, patient informatics, and diagnostic and treatment protocols.
Core Competencies: Non-invasive Diagnostics | Instrumentation Development | Motion Corrected Imaging and Sensing | Integrated Circuit Design | MEMS | Monolithic Sensors | Bio-Microelectronics | Neonatology | Medical Robotics | Robotic Fluoroscopy | Low-Power Biomedical Devices and Wireless Sensing Systems | In Vivo Sensors | Electrochemical Sensors | Signal Processing | Human Mental Health Monitoring | Concussion | Microfluidics
The merging of expertise in engineering, anatomy, medicine, orthopedics, and sport science to model and study the structure and motion of the human body and its application in orthopedic implant and prosthetic design, kinematic analysis, and computational biomechanics.
Core Competencies: FDA Regulation | Hip Replacement Surgery | Knee Replacement Surgery | Orthopedic Implant Design | Gait Analysis | Rehabilitation Modalities | Animals Models | Medical Device Design | In Vivo Sensors | Medical Software Design and Verification | Neuromuscular Biomechanics | Musculoskeletal Modeling | Multibody Dynamics | Finite Element Analysis | Optimization Techniques | Fluoroscopy
Multi-Scale Imaging (MSI)
The development of innovative translational imaging technologies, methods, techniques, and compounds utilizing cross-disciplinary expertise from clinical and pre-clinical imaging, engineering, and computer science.
Core Competencies: Motion Corrected Imaging and Sensing | Vascular Disease | Diagnostic Imaging | Neuroimaging | CT | MRI | PET | Ultrasonography | Deformable Segmentation in MRI, CT, X-Ray | Ultrasound Application in 3D Reconstruction | Light and Neutron Scattering | Nano-optics | Molecular (SPECT) Imaging | Protein-Protein Interactions | Peptide Radiotracers | Model-based Clustering and Classification | Multivariate Statistical Modeling | Nonlinear Optics | Radiobiochemistry | Bioluminescence
Cellular and Molecular Scale
Systems Biology and Molecular Medicine (SBMM)
The translation of experimental and computational system biology at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels into an integrated drug discovery, design, development, and delivery pipeline.
Core Competencies: Synthetic Biology | System Biology | Computational and Experimental Protein Engineering | Computational Cell Biology | Biophysical Chemistry | Immunology | Bacterial Genome Sequencing | Gene Expression | Gene Silencing | Antibiotic Resistance | Proteomics | Cellular and Molecular Biology | Vascular Biology | Vascular Drug Targeting | Drug Delivery | Genomics | Gene Networks | Obesity | Oncology | Bioinformatics | Proteopathies | Metabolic Engineering | Structure-based Molecular Discovery | Protein Structure/Function/Dynamics Relationship
Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine (BRM)
The leveraging of technologies that include genetic engineering, tissue engineering, biomaterials, and multipotent cells to develop in vitro assays, optimal biomaterial-tissue interfaces, tissue replacements, and targeted human tissue regeneration.
Core Competencies: Cell & Tissue Engineering | Mechanobiology | Equine Rehabilitation | Multipotent Cells | Polymeric Biomaterials | Orthopedics | Cardiovascular Biology | Hydrogels | Polymeric Scaffolding | Tailored Polymer Synthesis | Medicinal Chemistry
Figure 2. Network diagram of iBME faculty (Core Faculty in Red and Affiliate Faculty in Purple) connected to working groups (orange circles, descriptions of groups above) through dotted lines. iBME faculty connections that have resulted in proposal submission are shown with solid red lines.
1. Convergence. Facilitating Transdisciplinary Integration of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering, and Beyond. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2014.
2. Rubio DM, Schoenbaum EE, Lee LS, Schteingart DE, Marantz PR, Anderson KE, Platt LD, Baez A, Esposito K. Defining Translational Research: Implications for Training. Academic Medicine. 2010;85(3):470-475.