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 190 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.


Stony Brook’s Dr. Barry Lieber named first recipient of ASME’s Savio L-Y. Woo Translational Biomechanics Medal


NEW YORK/PITTSBURGH (August 24, 2016) … B. Barry Lieber, professor in the department of neurosurgery at Stony Brook University and the Director of the CerebroVascular Center for Research (CVCR), is the inaugural recipient of the Savio L-Y. Woo Translational Biomechanics Medal awarded by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The medal honors those ASME members who have translated meritorious bioengineering research and development to clinical practice. Dr. Lieber is recognized for significantly advancing brain aneurysm treatment through the engineering and development of flow diversion technology, which has been used to treat more than 50,000 patients worldwide to date. He has a broad background in engineering, animal models, endovascular methods, and devices, with specific expertise in cerebrovascular disease and stroke. Dr. Lieber also is the co-inventor of the flow diverter, a device for endovascular bypass of brain aneurysms that is considered one of the most innovative technologies in the field of neuro-intervention in the last decade. The ASME Translational Biomechanics Medal celebrates the career and achievements of Savio L-Y. Woo, PhD, Distinguished University Professor of Bioengineering in the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, and founder and director of the Musculoskeletal Research Center (MSRC) at Pitt. In honor of Dr. Woo’s international impact on bioengineering and translational research, the ASME Translational Biomechanics Medal recognizes the significant contributions of bioengineers whose work has resulted in the development of a medical device or equipment, contributed to new approaches of disease treatment, or established new injury treatment modalities. ###


Mechanical Engineering's Anne Robertson named Grant Reviewer for National Institutes Of Health

Bioengineering, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (August 24, 2016) … The National Institutes of Health (NIH) appointed Anne M. Robertson, William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Engineering and Director of the Center for Faculty Excellence in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Material Science at the University of Pittsburgh, to the Neuroscience and Ophthalmic Imaging Technologies Study Section at the Center for Scientific Review. Members of NIH Study Sections are responsible for reviewing grant applications and making recommendations to the appropriate national advisory council or board for funding. They are also expected to have a comprehensive understanding of the status of research in their fields of science and apply that knowledge in the evaluation of research proposals. “The National Institutes of Health have an invaluable impact on reducing disease, improving health and quality of life, conducting fundamental research and creating a community of leading scientists who support each other’s efforts,” said Robertson, who is also a professor of Bioengineering at Pitt. “I am honored with this opportunity to join colleagues in contributing to the mission of the largest biomedical research institution in the world.” The appointment of study members is based on the scientists’ demonstrated competence and achievements in their disciplines. Potential study members must have also demonstrated outstanding results in their research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors. NIH officers in charge of selecting new study members take in to account mature judgment and objectivity as well as the ability to work effectively in a group. Robertson will serve a four-year term as a NIH Reviewer from July 1, 2016 until June 30, 2020. About Anne Robertson Robertson is professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. She holds a William Kepler Whiteford Endowed Professorship in Engineering. Robertson’s research is focused on cerebral vascular disease and mechanobiology, and she directs a multi-institution program on cerebral aneurysm research. She is principal investigator on a current R01 and two multi PI R21 grants from the National Institutes of Health and has held visiting research professorships at universities, including the Polictecnico di Milano (Italy), the Bernouilli Center at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL, Switzerland) and RWTH University of Aachen (Germany). Robertson is director and founder of the newly formed Center for Faculty Excellence in the Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE). This Center takes the lead in developing and implementing programs to enhance the effectiveness of junior faculty in building outstanding academic careers. Robertson was one of 19 women admitted into the 2013-2014 class of the Executive Leadership in Academic Technology and Engineering (ELATE) at Drexel University, during which she developed Program LE2AP (Leveraging Excellence in Engineering Assistant Professors) that led to the development of the Center. Robertson earned her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California Berkeley, after which she was a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering, also at U.C. Berkeley. She joined the University of Pittsburgh in 1995, where she was the first female faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She served as director of the Graduate Program in Mechanical Engineering from 2004 to 2008. In 2007, she was the recipient of the Beitle-Veltri Memorial Outstanding Teaching Award in the SSOE. Robertson is a strong supporter of diversity-related initiatives, and in 2007, she received the Robert O. Agbede Faculty Award for Diversity in the SSOE. ###
Author: Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Bioengineering Faculty tenured/tenure-stream

Bioengineering, Open Positions

The Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering (www.engineering.pitt.edu/bioengineering) invites applications from accomplished individuals with an earned PhD or equivalent degree in bioengineering or closely related disciplines. This is a tenured/tenure-stream, open-rank position and we wish to recruit individuals with strong research accomplishments in biomimetics, synthetic biology, and the engineering of living systems. However, outstanding candidates that complement our current strengths in biomechanics, neural engineering, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, medical device engineering, and bioimaging, will also be considered. In addition, candidates must be committed to contributing to high quality education of a diverse student body at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.Located in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh is a top-five institution in terms of NIH funding, and provides a rich environment for interdisciplinary research, strengthened through its affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and collaborations with Carnegie Mellon University, including the joint Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (www.cnbc.cmu.edu). The Department of Bioengineering, consistently ranked among the top programs in the country, has outstanding research and educational programs, offering undergraduate (270 students, sophomore-to-senior years) and graduate (140 PhD or MD/PhD and 50 MS students) degrees. The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine (www.mirm.pitt.edu), Vascular Medicine Institute (www.vmi.pitt.edu), Brain Institute (www.braininstitute.pitt.edu), Center for Neuroscience (cnup.neurobio.pitt.edu), and Drug Discovery Institute (www.upddi.pitt.edu) offer many collaborative research opportunities.Interested individuals should send the following as a single, self-contained PDF attachment via email to bioeapp@pitt.edu(include AY17 PITT BIOE POSITION in the subject line): (1) cover letter, (2) complete CV (including funding record), (3) research statement, (4) teaching statement, (5) three representative publications, and (6) names and complete contact information of six references. We intend to fill this position as soon as possible and candidates are encouraged to apply early because applications will be reviewed as they are received.The Department of Bioengineering is strongly committed to a diverse academic environment and places high priority on attracting female and underrepresented minority candidates. We strongly encourage candidates from these groups to apply for the position. The University of Pittsburgh is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, marital status, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.


Pitt’s Center for Medical Innovation awards six novel biomedical devices with $140,000 in Round-1 2016 Pilot Funding


PITTSBURGH (July 14, 2016) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $140,000 to six research groups through its 2016 Round-1 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest funding proposals include developing a novel vascular access system, a shunt for treatment of fetal hydrocephalus in-utero, a system for stroke rehabilitation, a cell therapy for treatment of aortic aneurysm, a method for treatment of sickle cell anemia, and a novel mechanical device for use in general surgery. CMI, a University Center housed in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, 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 fifth year of providing 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: Electro-targeted Vascular Access: A novel way to quickly and accurately place peripheral and central venous catheters Award to design, build and test an advanced vascular catheter and guidance system for rapid, accurate placement in critical care. Cameron Dezfulian, MDAssistant Professor of Critical Care and Clinical and Translation Medicine Scientist, Vascular Medicine Institute University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine William Clark, PhDProfessor of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science Swanson School of Engineering   AWARD 2: VASFAS (Ventriculo-Amniotic Shunt for Fetal Aqueductal Stenosis) Continuation award for pre-clinical testing of a newly developed shunt to treat fetal hydrocephalus in-utero.Stephen P. Emery, MDAssociate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Youngjae Chun, PhDAssistant Professor of Industrial Engineering, Bioengineering (Secondary) Swanson School of Engineering Stephanie Greene, MDAssistant Professor of Neurosurgery University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine AWARD 3: I-HITS: Individualized hand improvement and tracking system after stroke Continuation award for development and clinical evaluation of a system to track therapeutic progress in stroke patients with impaired upper extremity function. Amit Sethi PhD, OTR/LAssistant Professor of Occupational Therapy University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Ervin Sejdić, PhDAssistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Swanson School of Engineering AWARD 4: Minimally invasive delivery of therapeutic cells to abdominal aortic aneurysm Award to develop and perform preclinical testing of a new biological therapy for prevention and treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysm.Kory BlosePhD candidate, Department of Bioengineering Swanson School of Engineering Justin Weinbaum, PhDAssistant Professor Bioengineering Swanson School of Engineering Ryan McEnaney, MDDivision of Vascular Surgery, UPMC John Curci, MDDivision of Vascular Surgery, UPMC AWARD 5: Reducing alloimmunization and sickle crisis in SCD patients using a novel method of replacing HbS with donor Hb in patient’s RBCs Continuation award to develop and test a new method for reconditioning the blood of sickle cell patients.Marina V. Kameneva, PhDDepartment of Surgery and Bioengineering McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Jonathan H. Waters, MDDepartment of Anesthesiology & Bioengineering Magee Womens Hospital Mark Gartner, PhDDepartment of Bioengineering Swanson School of Engineering AWARD 6: A motorized flexible arm retractor for open abdominal surgery Continuation award for development and testing of a novel mechanical device which improves and simplifies the management of surgical devices in the OR.Peter Allen, MD UPMC Mercy Department of General Surgery Garth Elias, MDUPMC Mercy Department of General Surgery UPMC Mercy Trauma and Burn Center Jeffrey S. Vipperman, PhDDepartment of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Swanson School of Engineering About the Center for Medical Innovation The Center for Medical Innovation at the Swanson School of Engineering is a collaboration among the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the Office of Technology Management (OTM), and the Coulter Translational Research Partnership II (CTRP). CMI was established in 2011 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 in cooperation with OTM and in partnership with CTRP. ###


Pitt researchers receive $1.54 million NIH grant to facilitate fabrication of vascular grafts with artificial stem cells

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (June 29, 2016) … The National Institutes of Health have awarded David Vorp, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering and Associate Dean for Research of the Swanson School of Engineering at Pitt, and colleagues with a grant worth more than $1.54 million to fund their study investigating artificial stem cells in the development of engineered vascular grafts. Some current regenerative medicine approaches use mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) harvested from the patient to help rebuild or repair damaged or diseased tissues. Dr. Vorp and his team have pioneered the use of MSCs in the development of tissue-engineered vascular grafts (TEVGs), which may be effective in small diameter arterial bypass procedures or arteriovenous access for dialysis. However, MSCs taken from patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease, such as the elderly and diabetics, may be dysfunctional. Furthermore, the use of harvested cells that require extended culture expansion also runs the risk of cellular contamination or transformation, as well as high costs and substantial waiting time before a graft can be made and implanted. “Fully functional human MSCs secrete a host of biochemicals, including those that prevent blood clotting and those that ‘call’ into the TEVGs important cells from the host, such as inflammatory cells, smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells,” said Vorp. “We have found that MSCs from diabetics, for example, are relatively ineffective in yielding a successful TEVG compared to MSCs from non-diabetics.  Considering that diabetics make up a large proportion of patients who need bypass grafts, we needed to find an alternative means to achieve our goal for this significant population.”   To answer this challenge, the research team has developed artificial stem cells (artMSCs) that are created by encapsulating the veritable cocktail of biochemicals secreted by normally functioning MSCs in culture into biodegradable microspheres that are similar in size to actual MSCs. “By ‘tuning’ or adjusting the degradation rate of the microspheres, we can replicate the release of these biochemicals by real, fully-functional MSCs,” said Vorp. He and his colleagues will then seed the artMSCs into porous, tubular scaffolds and implant them in a rat model as they have done with MSCs in fabricating TEVGs. The study, entitled “Artificial Stem Cells for Vascular Tissue Engineering,” aims to accelerate the clinical translation of the team’s TEVG technology. This will be achieved, according to Vorp, “both by making the technology applicable to all patients – even those with dysfunctional MSCs – and by reducing the regulatory barriers associated with the need for culture-expanding cells to the numbers necessary to fabricate a TEVG.” Vorp is joined on this study by Pitt colleagues Steven Little, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Chair of Chemical Engineering; William Wagner, Professor of Surgery and Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine; Morgan Fedorchak, Assistant Professor of Opthalmology; and Justin Weinbaum, Research Assistant Professor of Bioengineering. ###
Author: Matthew Cichowicz, Contributing Writer and Editor

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