BME Briefs

Notes and posts from the faculty, students, staff and alumni of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia.

    Sepideh Dolatshahi Recognized with Early Career Prize at IMMUNOLOGY2023

    April 28, 2023

    The American Association of Immunologists has awarded Sepideh Dolatshahi, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Virginia, with the Chambers-Thermo Fisher Scientific Memorial Award. The award, presented at IMMUNOLOGY2023, was established to honor the memory of AAI member Cynthia Chambers, Ph.D. and is generously supported by Thermo Fisher Scientific. It is intended to advance the career of an early career scientist who attends the AAI annual meeting and presents an outstanding abstract specifically in the area of cancer biology. MORE>

    Congratulations, Dr. Dolatshahi!

    Springbok Analytics Raises $3 Million in Seed Round

    April 26, 2023

    A UVA-founded company that uses artificial intelligence to convert 2D MRI scans into a 3D digital twin for muscle analysis won major financial backing. The original motivation for Springbok Analytics began in 2009 from research in biomedical engineering professor Silvia Blemker’s lab to explore ways to help surgeons treat patients with cerebral palsy. Read the story by Joe Lemire in Sports Business Journal. MORE >

    Funding from UVA's Coulter Center for Translational Research was instrumental in the company's development, said Blemker. "If it weren’t for Coulter, we for sure wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near this point," she said. Find our more about the Coulter Center. More >

    Yonathan Aberra Inducted into the Raven Society at UVA

    March 24, 2023

    Yonathan Aberra, a PhD Candidate in Mete Civelek's lab, is now a member of the Raven Society, the University of Virginia's oldest and most prestigious honor society. View the impromptu induction ceremony, wherein Yoni's many talents, accomplishments and contributions to the research, academic, departmental and student culture at UVA are summarized!  Watch Here

    Research in Motion

    March 23, 2023

    What do you do? What do you love about your research? How will it impact human health? The School of Medicine's Research in Motion video series asks researchers three questions. Here's what scientist-engineers in the department of biomedical engineering have had to say:

    Jason Papin, PhD, Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering Watch the Video

    Shayn Peirce-Cottler, Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering Watch the Video

    Mukti Chowkwale Named Outstanding Graduate Student in Biomedical Engineering

    March 17, 2023

    Each year, the UVA School of Medicine selects one graduating PhD student from each of its Biomedical Sciences graduate programs to form a cohort of the year's "Outstanding Graduate Students." This year's Outstanding Graduate Student in Biomedical Engineering was Mukti Chowkwale in Jeff Saucerman's lab. She graduates this spring having defended the thesis titled "Systems Biology Approaches to Identify Novel Regulatory Mechanisms of Cardiac Fibroblast Phenotypes post Myocardial Infarction."

    Mukti's other accolades include the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Sture G. Olsson Graduate Fellowship and an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship. Congratulations, Mukti!

    Blue Dreams

    March 15, 2023

    Eleven feet tall and 35 feet wide, a science-art installation by artist Rebecca Rutstein opened today in the Upper Gallery of the historic National Academy of Science Building, home to the Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences (CPNAS). Shayn Peirce-Cottler, Harris Distinguished Teaching Professor and chair of the department of biomedical engineering at the University of Virginia, was one among a multidisciplinary team that contributed to the work.

    The immersive video installation is inspired by the intricate workings of microbial networks in the deep sea and beyond. Peirce-Cottler's contribution was an agent-based computational model that simulates bacteria in the depths of the ocean. The artist's use of her simulation can be viewed about a third of the way through this VIDEO.  Read more about Rebecca Rutstein and the Ocean Memory Project Here.

    Bacteria has never been so beautiful!

    Tom Barker Invited to Science2Startup Showcase of Therapeutics Research

    March 06, 2023

    Thomas H. Barker, co-founder and CSO of Vasarya Therapeutics and a professor in the department of biomedical engineering at the University of Virginia, has been invited to participate in Science2Startups (S2S), an invitation-only symposium featuring the most innovative therapeutics startup ideas from the world’s top research institutions. The event is presented by venture capital firms Atlas Venture, F-Prime Capital, Osage University Partners, RA Capital Management and 5AM Ventures in partnership with Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. 

    From a field of 125 applications, Barker was one of ten scientists selected to showcase their discoveries as well as their path toward clinical proof-of-concept. The symposium is May 3, 2023, and between now and then, each finalist will receive one-on-one mentorship from S2S advisory group members and other industry participants, as well as feedback on their scientific translation and drug development plans.  Attendees at the event will include senior biopharma executives, life science-focused investors and biotech entrepreneurs.

    For more about Vasarya Therapeutics and its approach to targeted treatments for fibrotic disorders, see For a list of S2S’s 2023 advisors, see Read the press release with a list of the ten finalists on Business Wire.

    Back home at UVA, Barker's technology development is supported by seed grants from the UVA Coulter Center for Translational Research and the Ivy Biomedical Innovation Fund. Congratulations, Dr. Barker!  

    Look HOO's an NBA Launchpad Company!

    March 06, 2023

    Springbok Analytics, a technology spinoff company led by University of Virginia professors Silvia Salinas Blemker and Craig H. Meyer, already works with multiple National Basketball Association teams, employing the company's AI-based technology to transform MRI data into an athlete's 3D digital twin. Their advanced imaging technology quantifies an individual's musculature and provides scientists, physical therapists, athletic trainers and physicians with data to evaluate muscle function as it relates to performance and injury management.

    Now Springbok will broaden their relationship with the NBA through competitive selection as an NBA Launchpad company. They will pilot and evaluate a six-month R&D project to analyze lower extremity MRIs to evaluate the benefits of adding quantitative 3D muscle volume data to soft-tissue injury prevention models and better inform return to play decisions. In July they will present their findings at the NBA's Summer League in Las Vegas. Read the NBA press release HERE.

    Blemker and Meyer are both faculty members in the department of biomedical engineering at UVA. From 2009-2012, UVA's Coulter Center for Translational Research provided seed funding for the the team's technology, which Blemker said was essential in moving the company forward to where it is today. Congratulations to the Springbok team!

    Medicine in Motion Features BME Emerging Leaders Symposium

    December 08, 2022

    The Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) hosted the inaugural Emerging Leaders in Biomedical Engineering Symposium on Friday, November 18th, at the Pinn Hall Conference Center, featuring . The symposium was supported by a grant to Enhance Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at UVA from the Provost’s Office, School of Engineering Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, School of Medicine Senior Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Graduate Biomedical Engineering Society. Mete Civelek, Dan Abebayehu and Natasha Sheybani were the biomedical engineering department faculty who spearheaded the event.

    New Coulter Award

    October 17, 2022

    Hossack lab has a new Coulter Partnership Award of $136,00 for the design of a therapeutic ultrasound approach for the treatment of degenerative heart valve disease. The Principal Investigators are: John A. Hossack, Biomedical Engineering and Patricia Rodriguez Lozano, M.D., Cardiovascular Medicine. Clinical Co-Investigators include: Austin Robinson, M.D., Mohamed Morsy, M.D., and Christopher Kramer M.D., Cardiovascular Medicine and Radiology. New designs will be developed using Finite Element Analysis to evaluate technical tradeoffs. The project will involve simulation and in vitro testing. Some ex vivo testing will be performed subject to availability of suitable tissue.