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Research in Biomedical Engineering at UNC and NCSU spans a wide array of topics and application areas, from basic science to translational research. Innovate and multi-disciplinary research by faculty within the department include such areas as neural systems, microfluidics, bioinformatics, computational systems biology, biomaterials, medical devices, imaging, metabolomics, single-cell assays and tissue engineering. This research diversity is supported by the wealth of BME-affiliated faculty and a variety of associated centers and initiatives on both the UNC and NCSU campuses. BME graduate students are actively recruited across departments and are encouraged to help foster novel research across disciplines.

The department is currently focusing on four major areas for future growth and development. These areas include Biomedical Imaging, Microsystems Engineering, Rehabilitation Engineering, and Pharmacoengineering and build upon existing strengths within BME as well as those of other departments at UNC and NCSU.

Rehabilitation Engineering

Involves biomechanics and quantifying the properties of soft tissues, tendons, and bone; fracture healing and advanced fracture repair; blood flow dynamics and interactions with vessel walls; and simulation-based vascular surgery planning. Also encompasses tissue engineering and the use of molecular biology, bioreactors, cytomechanics, engineering scaffolds, plasma-treated surfaces, biotextiles, microfluidics, and mechanobiology to engineer synthetic living tissues and produce novel biocompatible materials.

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Biomedical Imaging

Involves development and assessment of technologies for imaging of animal models, biological samples, and patients to assess disease or injury, to determine potential efficacy of therapies, and to better understand the physiology of disease progression and healing. Includes development of new hardware, software, contrast agents, and image and signal processing techniques. Modalities include ultrasound, CT, PET, SPECT, MRI, and photonics.

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Microsystems Engineering

Microsystems engineering seeks to leverage phenomena at the micro- and nanoscale to solve problems in medicine and biology. This area includes lab-on-a-chip and other micro-scale technologies often made using microfabrication techniques such as micromachining, photolithography, replica molding, embossing, and laser ablation. Miniaturization of bioanalytical techniques enables a reduction of equipment size, fast analysis and short reaction times, parallel operations for multiple analyses, and the possibility of portable analytical devices and sensors.

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Pharmacoengineers apply the latest experimental approaches from life sciences, chemistry, and physics in conjunction with theoretical and quantitative methods from engineering, mathematics, and computer science to solve problems in medicine and drug therapies. Our program — a joint effort between the Eshelman School of Pharmacy and BME — prepares students to work at the interface of engineering and pharmaceutical sciences to develop safer and more effective medicine and medical technologies.

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