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Graduate Catalog | 2005-2007
College of Engineering

Biomedical Engineering

to courses in BME Biomedical Engineering »

Master of Science in Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy


The mission of the graduate program in biomedical engineering is to educate students in the fundamentals of engineering and science as they affect biology and medicine and to perform multidisciplinary, disease-oriented research at the molecular, cellular, organ, and systemic levels. The program aims fully to integrate biology and engineering research and education at the graduate level.

Biomedical engineering students are eligible for the National Science Foundation's IGERT program in optical molecular bioengineering and the National Institutes of Health's Biotechnology Training Grant. Information about these programs is given online.

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Facilities for Graduate Work

The Department of Biomedical Engineering has offices and laboratories in the Engineering-Science Building and nearby engineering and biology buildings. Research is also conducted at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. The faculty at each school maintains a laboratory with state-of-the-art equipment. These laboratories include facilities for research in biochemical and protein engineering, cell and tissue engineering, gene therapy, cell-electronic interfaces and nanostructure engineering, cell biomechanics, whole-body biomechanics and gait analysis, thermal engineering, optical spectroscopy and imaging, ultrasound imaging, laser-tissue interactions, image processing, biosignal analysis and computer graphics, protein bioinformatics, and computational disease diagnosis.

In addition to individual research laboratories, a number of core facilities are available for research at the medical school campuses. The following are located on the University of Texas at Austin campus:

Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology core facilities.

The Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology (ICMB) was created by the College of Natural Sciences to foster the growth of modern cell and molecular biology research at the University. The ICMB provides four core user facilities. The DNA Core Facility provides automated sequencing and fragment analysis. Two ABI Prism 377 DNA sequencers and an ABI 3700 DNA analyzer are used. The ABI 3700 is a capillary-based sequencer that allows up to six hundred samples to be run daily; the facility currently analyzes more than two thousand samples monthly, with a success rate of about 95 percent. An average run generates readable data between five hundred and seven hundred bases.

The Protein Microanalysis Facility provides de-novo N-terminal protein/peptide sequencing, internal sequencing/peptide mapping, amino acid composition analysis, peptide synthesis and mass spectrometry (ESI-MS, LC-MS, and MALDI-TOF-MS). Liquid chromotography, high-pressure liquid chromotography (HPLC), and capillary electrophoresis are available for preparative and analytical runs. Two protein sequencers, an amino acid analyzer, a peptide synthesizer, a capillary electrophoresis system, an analytical HPLC system, an electrospray-mass spectrometer, and a MALDI-TOF mass spectrometer are operated in the facility. The running of gels and electroblotting for sequencing also can be arranged.

The Microscopy Core Facility contains a 100kv transmission electron microscope (TEM), a high-resolution 100kv TEM, a scanning electron microscope, a flow cytometer, and a laser scanning confocal microscope. The laser scanning fluorescence confocal microscope features a krypton/argon mixed gas laser, an ultraviolet laser, and DIC optics in an inverted microscope. Three channels can be monitored simultaneously at high resolution.

The IGERT Microscopy/Spectroscopy User Facility contains four major pieces of equipment. (a) A deconvolution microscope workstation with full-featured image processing software, coupled with a high-resolution, low-light camera, can computationally reassign (deconvolve) the out-of-focus components of a through-focus series of a specimen using either user-defined theoretical or measured-point spread functions. The image processing software has features for both the quantitation of image sets and extensive three-dimensional reconstruction and volume rendering. (b) A Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrophotometer with added auxiliary experimental module can be used in grazing angle and transmission modes for the characterizations of thin films and monolayers. (c) An ultraviolet/visible diode array spectrophotometer with peltier temperature-controlled cuvette holder collects simultaneous wavelengths in either absorbance or transmittance modes. This ability is required to characterize samples with rapid reaction times and to follow enzyme kinetics. (d) A cuvette-based scanning spectrofluorometer with a laser fluorescence lifetime module is used to study a wide variety of liquid and solid samples in both steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence modes. The intensity-based, time-domain system accurately measures fluorescence decays over multiple time scales; coupled with the dye laser/frequency doubler, it allows accurate measurements of solid samples with low quantum yields or turbid liquid samples with high scattering properties. A user-facility manager is available to provide training and assistance.

Texas Materials Institute and Center for Nano and Molecular Science and Technology core facilities.

The Texas Materials Institute (TMI) maintains core facilities in electron microscopy, surface analysis, polymer characterization, and x-ray scattering. The Center for Nano and Molecular Science and Technology (CNM) is a multidisciplinary, collaborative research center focused on several emerging areas of research. A multidepartmental effort of the the Colleges of Natural Sciences and Engineering, CNM houses extensive shared user facilities, including a picosecond fluorescence lifetime spectrometer/microscope; an FTIR spectrometer; a near-field scanning optical microscope; organic thin film fabrication equipment; beam lithography systems; molecular force probe microscope; a transmission electron microscope; and a time-correlated single photon counting facility.

Animal Resources Center facilities.

The Animal Resources Center (ARC) is a fourteen-thousand-square-foot state-of-the-art facility in which animal surgical procedures are performed. A separate building houses transgenic and knock-out animals. The facility is fully staffed and equipped in compliance with NIH and AAALAC guidelines for accreditation. Available are animal operating rooms, support staff, equipment for preparing tissue specimens, and veterinary consultation for both animal husbandry and surgery.

Computer and computational facilities.

All research groups maintain computers for use by their graduate students, and each academic unit has one or more core computer facilities. The University also has core computer user facilities across campus. In addition, advanced computational facilities are maintained by the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES). Extensive computing facilities are available to faculty members and students, including a scientific visualization lab, a medium-sized massively parallel processing computer, a network of eighteen RS6000s networked by optic fiber, and many X-terminals. Also available are a forty-five-node Intel Paragon and a thirty-two-node Cray J90.

Library facilities.

The University has outstanding library facilities, including a general collection of four million volumes in the Perry-Castaneda Library and topical collections in specialized libraries like the Mallet Chemistry Library, the McKinney Engineering Library, and the Life Sciences Library.

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Areas of Study

The biomedical engineering program is interdisciplinary, with a faculty that includes members of the School of Biological Sciences, the Departments of Kinesiology and Health Education, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Psychology, Biomedical Engineering, and several other departments in the College of Engineering, as well as practicing physicians. Several faculty members from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center serve on the Graduate Studies Committee and supervise biomedical engineering students. Adjunct faculty members at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center also serve as co-supervisors.

The current research of this faculty is focused in the following areas: cellular and molecular imaging, cellular and biomolecular engineering, computational biomedical engineering, and instrumentation. Research activities embrace such topics as bioinstrumentation, modeling and control of biological systems, nerve fiber regeneration, biomedical computer and information technology, biomechanics, cell and tissue mechanics, thermal processes, musculo-skeletal modeling, acquisition and analysis of in vivo and ex vivo spatial human biomechanics data, acquisition of physiological data by noninvasive means, cell and tissue engineering, design and testing of novel fluid and drug delivery systems, effects of laser radiation on biological material, laser applications in medicine, coherence imaging of biological materials, pulsed photothermal tomography, biorheology, visual system instrumentation, computer vision, production and purification of genetically engineered proteins, DNA and drug delivery, cell-electronic interfaces, acquisition and processing of neurological signals, neuroprostheses, applications of finite element modeling in medicine, acoustics and ultrasound, image processing, thermography, and hyperthermia.

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Graduate Studies Committee

The following faculty members served on the Graduate Studies Committee in the spring semester 2004-2005. The names of faculty members at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston are marked with an asterisk; those of faculty members at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, with a dagger; those of faculty members at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, with a double dagger; and those of faculty members at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, with a section mark.

Lawrence D. Abraham
J. K. Aggarwal
C. Mauli Agrawal
Orly Alter
Chandrajit L. Bajaj
Ronald E. Barr
Adela Ben-Yakar
Akhil Bidani
Eric Boerwinkle
Alan C. Bovik
Lisa Brannon-Peppas
William L. Buford Jr.*
John Byrne
Craig A. Champlin
Shaochen Chen
Su Dharmawardhane
Kenneth R. Diller
Jonathan B. Dingwell
Rena N. D'Souza
Andrew Ellington
Stas Emelianov
Benito Fernandez
Harvey M. Fishman*
Robert H. Flake
Michele Follen§
Emil J. Freireich§
Wolfgang Frey
Wilson S. Geisler III
George Georgiou
Joydeep Ghosh
Ann M. Gillenwater§
David G. Gorenstein*
Lisa Griffin
Mark F. Hamilton
Linda J. Hayes
George C. Kramer*
James F. Leary
Edward M. Marcotte
Mia Markey
Anshu Mathur§
Dianna M. Milewicz
Michael Miller§
Thomas E. Milner
Tessie J. Moon
Massoud Motamedi*
Ponnada A. Narayana
Richard Neptune
Marcus G. Pandy
Charles Patrick§
John A. Pearce
Nicholas Peppas
Martin Poenie
Rebecca Richards-Kortum
Krishnendu Roy
H. Grady Rylander III
Christine E. Schmidt
Jason B. Shear
Li Shi
Harel Shouval
Michael H. Smolensky
Konstantin V. Sokolov
Laura J. Suggs
Delbert Tesar
Jonathan W. Valvano
Ashley James Welch
Baxter F. Womack
Bugao Xu
Hao Ying*
Zhiwen Zhang
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Admission Requirements

The graduate adviser and the Admissions Committee make all admission decisions. Standards for entrance into the program exceed the minimum standards established by the University. Students must have a bachelor's degree with the following coursework or equivalent knowledge: freshman biology, freshman inorganic chemistry, differential equations, probability and statistics, and calculus-based physics. An applicant with a degree in an area other than engineering must take specified preliminary coursework before applying to the graduate program in biomedical engineering. The coursework does not need to be completed at UT Austin. Information about the admission process is given online.

Admission decisions are based on a careful review of all aspects of each applicant's file, including score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language, if needed, grade point average, Graduate Record Examinations scores, letters of recommendation, personal statement, and previous research or work experience. Only the most qualified applicants are accepted. Admission is not based on test scores and grade point averages alone; other important factors include the applicant's statement of purpose, reference letters, resume, and transcripts. The number of students admitted each semester depends on the availability of supervising faculty members to provide research facilities and possible financial support. Most students are admitted for doctoral study, but students interested in the MSE are also considered on a case-by-case basis.

All applicants whose native language is not English must submit a score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

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Degree Requirements

The Master of Science in Engineering and the Doctor of Philosophy degree programs include a core curriculum and courses from one or more areas of specialization selected with the approval of the graduate adviser. Specializations are offered in molecular and cellular imaging, molecular-based sensors and devices, computational biomedical engineering and bioinformatics, and instrumentation. The graduate adviser and the Executive Committee of the Graduate Studies Committee must approve deviation from the prescribed curriculum.

Master of Science in Engineering

The master's degree requires at least thirty semester hours of coursework, including six hours in the thesis course and fifteen hours of biomedical engineering coursework. The remaining nine semester hours should be selected from courses outside the field of biomedical engineering. These additional courses must be logically related to the student's program and must be approved by the graduate adviser.

A thesis is normally expected; however, with the consent of the graduate adviser, the student may follow a degree plan that includes a report or one with neither thesis nor report. The report option requires thirty-three semester hours of coursework, consisting of six or seven courses in the major, three or four courses in supporting work, and three hours in the report course. The plan without thesis or report requires thirty-six semester hours of coursework, consisting of at least eight courses in the major and up to four courses in supporting work.

Doctor of Philosophy

Doctoral-degree students complete at least twenty-eight semester hours of coursework beyond the baccalaureate degree, in addition to conducting research necessary to write a dissertation under the direction of a faculty supervisor. The twenty-eight hours of coursework must be composed of five biomedical engineering core courses and five other supporting graduate-level courses, two of which must be biomedical engineering courses, that are selected in consultation with the student's supervisor and/or dissertation committee. Doctoral students are also required to serve as teaching assistants for at least two semesters.

At the end of their third semester in the program, doctoral students must demonstrate that they have completed all five biomedical engineering core courses with a grade of at least B in each and that they have a graduate grade point average of at least 3.50 in order to continue in the program. When these requirements have been met, the student is expected to form a dissertation committee composed of the supervisor and four other faculty members; at least one faculty member outside the biomedical engineering Graduate Studies Committee must participate on the dissertation committee. The student must present a written and oral dissertation proposal to the dissertation committee within two years of enrollment in the program. The written proposal must be formatted according to the guidelines of either the National Science Foundation or the National Institutes of Health, and must be presented at least two weeks prior to the oral proposal date. After the oral examination, the dissertation committee determines if the student should complete additional coursework. When the proposal is approved, the student applies for doctoral candidacy with the Office of Graduate Studies. The final oral defense of the completed dissertation is presented to the dissertation committee for approval and must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies by the last class day of the semester in which the student intends to graduate.

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Dual Degree Program

Doctor of Philosophy/Doctor of Medicine

The graduate program in biomedical engineering participates in a dual degree program with the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB). Admission is restricted to United States citizens and permanent residents. Applicants must apply separately to and be admitted to both the PhD program in biomedical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and the medical school at UTMB. Students accepted into the dual degree program spend their first two years of study in the medical school at UTMB, followed by three to four years of doctoral work at UT Austin. Students then return to UTMB to complete the MD degree. The degrees are conferred separately by each institution.

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For More Information

Campus address: Engineering-Science Building (ENS) 602, phone (512) 475-8500, fax (512) 471-0616; campus mail code: C0800

Mailing address: The University of Texas at Austin, Graduate Program, Department of Biomedical Engineering, 1 University Station C0800, Austin TX 78712



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Graduate Catalog | 2005-2007 Biomedical Engineering program | courses

Fields of Study

    Office of the Registrar     University of Texas at Austin copyright 2005
    Official Publications 16 Aug 2005