People choose biomedical engineering because it is complex, challenging, and rewarding in ways that few fields can equal.
It is not too much to say that modern medicine was invented by biomedical engineers. Virtually every piece of equipment that physicians use to diagnose and treat disease was invented by a biomedical engineer—whether it is an MRI or a pacemaker or a robotic surgery system. In each case, biomedical engineers combined their knowledge of human physiology and tools from a spectrum of engineering disciplines to solve a particular clinical problem.
Thanks to advances in computation and data science, biomedical engineers have taken on even more ambitious challenges. Biomedical engineers are not only creating smart devices, but they are using tools like machine learning and modeling to accelerate the pace of medical discovery, to lay the foundations for precision medicine, and even to engineer new tissue and organs.
In the final analysis, biomedical engineers create new methods to explore life and treat disease. Accordingly, the value of their work is ultimately measured in pain alleviated and lives saved. People choose to become biomedical engineers because it is complex, challenging, and rewarding in ways that few fields can equal.
BME at UVA builds its engineering curriculum on a solid base of biological knowledge. As part of our “biology-first” approach, BME students take a two-semester physiology course for engineers and a customized cell and molecular biology course during their first year as majors. Our graduates leave UVA with a fundamental understanding of the biological origins of disease that sets them apart from their peers.
Advances in data science and systems modeling have already produced dramatic advances in research, drug development, and treatment—and much more is yet to come. BME at UVA is known throughout the world for being at the forefront of this revolution. As a result, our students have an unprecedented opportunity not simply to master new computational approaches but to learn from faculty who are creating them.
Not only is data science and systems modeling integrated into the curriculum, but students have ample opportunity to join faculty labs and take a meaningful role in advancing their research. You will find BME students helping to identify biomarkers for cancer, contributing to models for building human tissue, and applying computational approaches to advancing the treatment of disease in scores of ways.
The UVA Biomedical Engineering program starts with an advantage that most programs cannot hope to equal: co-location with the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, and the UVA Medical Center. Proximity has a pervasive impact on every aspect of our students’ education.
Engineers learn by doing. That is one reason why BME at UVA emphasizes design from the first year of the program. The other is that by the time our students graduate, we want them to have hands-on experience identifying a clinical problem and working in teams to create a workable solution. At UVA, students learn to ideate and create.
This emphasis on design starts in the first semester and continues through Capstone. One of the highlights is the year-long Ideas Lab, where students practice design thinking approaches and master computational and experimental approaches for measuring and analyzing real medical data at multiple scales.
Biomedical engineering is inherently interdisciplinary, but cross-disciplinary collaboration is a learned art. It requires the ability to appreciate viewpoints of colleagues who approach design and discovery from different perspectives and to meet the expectations of stakeholders with different interests. Our graduates’ facility as collaborators gives them a jumpstart on their careers.