Reaf­firming Northeastern’s com­mit­ment to inter­dis­ci­pli­nary edu­ca­tion, the Col­lege of Engi­neering is offering a new PhD pro­gram in bio­engi­neering. The course­work will merge areas of bio­sciences and engi­neering, including nan­otech­nology, bio­chem­istry, mechanics, imaging and biocomputing.

Headed up by Jeff Ruberti, pro­fessor of mechan­ical and indus­trial engi­neering, the pro­gram will pre­pare stu­dents for high-​​level careers in research and med­ical lab­o­ra­to­ries, indus­trial orga­ni­za­tions, and aca­d­emic institutions.

There is tremen­dous oppor­tu­nity in bio­engi­neering,” says Yaman Yener, asso­ciate dean and director of grad­uate pro­grams at Northeastern’s Col­lege of Engi­neering. “We hope that our pro­gram will spur a new gen­er­a­tion of bio­engi­neers who can take on com­plex issues in health and sci­ence by applying sci­en­tific dis­cov­eries to engi­neering processes”

After com­pleting the core cur­riculum in basic bio­engi­neering, stu­dents can pursue one of six immer­sion tracks:
•bioimaging and signal pro­cessing (used to extract infor­ma­tion from MRIs)
•bio­me­chanics and mechanobi­ology (that aid in under­standing the root cause of dis­eases like osteoarthritis)
•bioMEMs/​bioNano (leading to devices that use small vol­umes of blood to detect dis­ease)
•biochemical/​bioenvironmental engi­neering (to help sci­en­tists under­stand how drugs are released from implantable devices)
•motor con­trol (to aid in building reha­bil­i­ta­tive devices)
•bio­com­puting (used to make com­pu­ta­tional models of bio­log­ical systems)

The pro­gram is flex­ible, too, allowing stu­dents to design their own track under the super­vi­sion of a fac­ulty member.

Stu­dents will be working with uni­ver­sity fac­ulty on var­ious projects, including: engi­neering bio­log­ical solu­tions to cor­rect the amount of chem­ical con­t­a­m­i­nants in rivers and streams; researching how nan­otech­nology can impact reha­bil­i­ta­tion robotics; and con­structing human corneas through tissue engineering.

In designing the pro­gram, we exam­ined the strengths of North­eastern and deter­mined what a bio­engi­neer should be,” says Ruberti. “We have no doubt that stu­dents who grad­uate from the pro­gram will be well pre­pared to com­pete for the top aca­d­emic appoint­ments and industry posi­tions available.”

The inter­dis­ci­pli­nary approach to the pro­gram draws on the exper­tise of more than 90 fac­ulty mem­bers from the Col­lege of Engi­neering, the Col­lege of Arts and Sci­ences, and the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences. It is expected to take from four to six years to complete.

Bio-​​inspired engi­neering has the poten­tial to trans­form the tech­no­log­ical land­scape,” adds Ruberti. “Our stu­dents will be trained to appre­ciate advances in bio­engi­neering across a wide range of disciplines.