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On Campus

July 25, 2001 - VOL. 28, NO. 09

In partnership with Houston medical centers, UT Austin establishes new Department of Biomedical Engineering


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The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has voted to create a Department of Biomedical Engineering within the UT Austin College of Engineering and set aside $55 million toward the effort.

Medical faculty from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the University of Texas Health Science Center will conduct research and teach classes, as well as offer courses through distance learning facilities.

The new department will offer an undergraduate degree with three specialization tracks: cellular and molecular imaging, cell and biomolecular engineering, and computational biomedical engineering.  

Summer internships in Houston will allow students to work directly with scientists at the medical institutions.  UT Austin faculty will continue travel to Houston to coordinate human trials and collaborate in other research activities at the medical centers.

Dr. Kenneth Diller, Joe J. King Professor in Engineering, will serve as chair of the new department.  Biomedical engineering at UT Austin previously had existed as an interdisciplinary graduate level program, with Diller as director.

In Houston, the program will be based at the Biomedical Engineering Center at M. D. Anderson, which will be co-directed by Dr. Michele Follen, a professor of gynecologic oncology, and Dr. Dianna Milewicz, who also is director of division of molecular genetics in the UT Houston Medical School Department of Internal Medicine.  

Among the charter faculty members are UT Austin professors Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Christine Schmidt and Tess Moon.

Richards-Kortum has achieved national attention for her development of pioneering optical imaging techniques for medical diagnosis. 

Tissue engineer Schmidt is widely hailed for her research on the re-growth of damaged nerves using an electricity-conducting polymer tube called polypyrrole as a substrate.

Moon, an expert in the mechanics of materials processing and manufacturing, applies detailed mathematical modeling as well as experimentation to acquire knowledge leading to enhanced process control and optimization.  

All three have pre-existing ties to M.D. Anderson.  

Milewicz is an expert in genetic aspects of Marfan Syndrome and aortic aneurysm, a bulging in the aorta that can cause sudden death.  

She recently led a research team that mapped a susceptibility gene for aortic aneurysm.


July 25, 2001
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