UVA engineering leads pan-University initiative for better healthcare

The University of Virginia will invest $5 million to bring together a diverse group of researchers from the schools of Engineering, Medicine, Nursing and Arts & Sciences to address some of the most complex healthcare challenges of our generation.

UVA’s Engineering in Medicine initiative aims to develop new methods to prevent, diagnose, monitor and treat disease. Many of our most effective modern medical therapies developed at the interface between engineering and medicine, and this same interface holds enormous promise to deliver the next generation of advances, such as sensors that detect illness earlier, nanoparticles that seek out diseased cells and deliver treatment exactly where needed, and computer models that help doctors customize treatments for each patient.

“Many of the most innovative, high-impact approaches to complex medical problems facing our society are now emerging at the interface between engineering and medicine,” said Biomedical Engineering Professor Jeffrey Holmes, who will lead the new Engineering in Medicine initiative. “UVA has critical strategic advantages in this area, including the physical proximity of the Schools of Engineering, Medicine and Nursing, and our experience building successful translational partnerships between individual faculty from the schools of Engineering and Medicine through our endowed Coulter Translational Partners Program.”

America’s universities, research funding agencies and healthcare companies recognize the enormous promise of engineering in medicine efforts. The number of accredited biomedical/bioengineering undergraduate programs and the number of Ph.D.s awarded in biomedical/bioengineering have tripled in the past decade. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched the new National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), which now spends nearly $350 million annually on research at the engineering-medicine interface. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration launched its Biological Technologies Office, which funds another approximately $300 million annually. The National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration, Veterans Administration and other federal agencies also fund work at the Engineering-Medicine interface.

UVA’s Engineering in Medicine initiative includes more than 120 faculty from over 20 departments across the University.