About the Department

Biomedical engineering is an evolving discipline in engineering that draws on collaboration among engineers, physicians, and scientists to provide interdisciplinary insight into medical and biological problems. The field has developed its own knowledge base and principles that are the foundation for the academic programs designed by the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University. 

The programs in biomedical engineering at Columbia (B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Eng.Sc.D., and M.D./Ph.D) prepare students to apply engineering and applied science to problems in biology, medicine, and the understanding of living systems and their behavior, and to develop biomedical systems and devices. Modern engineering encompasses sophisticated approaches to measurement, data acquisition and analysis, simulation, and systems identification. These approaches are useful in the study of individual cells, organs, entire organisms, and populations of organisms. The increasing value of mathematical models in the analysis of living systems is an important sign of the success of contemporary activity. Programs in biomedical engineering are taught by our own faculty, members of other Engineering departments, and faculty from other university divisions who have strong interests and involvement in biomedical engineering. Several of the faculty hold joint appointments in Biomedical Engineering and other University departments. 

Courses offered by the Department of Biomedical Engineering are complemented by courses offered by other departments in The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and by many departments in the Faculty of Medicine, the College of Dental Medicine, and the Mailman School of Public Health, as well as the science departments within the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The availability of these courses in a university that contains a large medical center and enjoys a basic commitment to interdisciplinary research is important to the quality and strength of the program.

Educational programs at all levels are based on engineering and biological fundamentals. From this basis, the program branches into concentrations along three tracks: biomechanics, cell and tissue engineering, and biosignals and biomedical imaging. The intrinsic breadth of these tracks, and a substantial elective content, prepare bachelor’s and master’s students to commence professional activity in any are of biomedical engineering or to go on to graduate school for further studies in related fields. The program also provides excellent preparation for the health sciences and the study of medicine.

Areas of particular interest to Columbia faculty include biomechanics (Professors Ateshian, Guo, Hess, Jacobs, Morrison, and Mow), cellular and tissue engineering and artificial organs (Professors Danino, Hung, Kam, Leonard, Leong, Lu, Morrison, Sia, and Vunjak-Novakovic), auditory biophysics (Professor Olson), and biosignals and biomedical imaging (Professors Guo, Hielscher, Hillman, Jacobs, Konfagou, Laine, Sajda, and Wang).

The Department of Biomedical Engineering has been supported by grants obtained from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Transportation, Department of Defense, New York State, numerous reserach foundations, and University funding. The extensice new facilities that have recently been added both at the Medical Center and Morningside campus now include new teaching and research laboratories that provide students with access to contemporary research equipment. An undergraduate wet laboratory devoted to biomechanics along with a cellular engineering and a biomedical imaging and a computational teaching laboratory provide equipment normally reserved for advanced research and provide exceptional access to current practices in biomedical engineering and related sciences. Specific research facilities of the biomedical engineering faculty members are included with the faculty listings. These laboratories are supplemented by department-wide core facilities, including a tissue culture facility, a histology facility, a confocal microscope, an atomic force microscope, an epifluorescence microscope, a freezer room, and a machine shop.

Columbia is a private, nonsectarian university that offers a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and professional courses of study. Columbia is known for breaking down the walls that separate the ivory towers of academia from the rest of the world. As a vital, multicultural center of life, learning, and diversity of every kind–geographic, ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic–Columbia stands alone. Students come from more than thirty countries and all fifty states. Males and females are about equally represented in the student populations, and well over 30 percent of the students at the University are Asian, Black, Hispanic, or Native American. Difference has a place at Columbia. We are proud that Columbia offers a surprising mix of intellectual Ivy League atmosphere and a small college sense of community nestled in and enriched by the diversity of New York City. Our Web site includes comprehensive information about teaching programs, facilities and admissions, faculty profiles, and research lab descriptions.

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