Biomedical Engineering is an interdisciplinary area of study that integrates knowledge from engineering with the biomedical sciences. It is a very diverse field with Biomedical Engineers working in systems ranging from medical imaging to the design of artificial organs. Some major research advances in Biomedical Engineering include the left ventricular assist device (LVAD), artificial joints, kidney dialysis, bioengineered skin, angioplasty, computed tomography (CT), and flexible endoscopes. Students who choose Biomedical Engineering are interested in being of service to human health but do not routinely interact directly with patients. Our curriculum has been designed to provide a solid foundation in both engineering and the life sciences, and to provide sufficient flexibility in the upper division requirements to encourage students to explore specializations within Biomedical Engineering. Our instructional program is designed to impart knowledge of contemporary issues at the forefront of biomedical engineering research. Our overall aim is to produce high-quality, interdisciplinary engineers who are well-prepared for pursuit of further graduate or professional degrees and/or careers in industry. Employment opportunities exist in industry, hospitals, academic research institutes, teaching, national laboratories, and government regulatory agencies.
The mission of the Biomedical Engineering Department is:
To combine exceptional teaching with state-of-the-art research for the advancement of technologies and computational techniques that meet medical and societal challenges.
BME Program Educational Objectives
Our educational program has the objective to prepare our undergraduates to
1) Develop successful careers related to Biomedical Engineering or another area of the student’s choosing, through employment in industry or government, or through pursuit of graduate or professional degrees; and
2) Contribute effectively to society through engineering practice, research and development, education, or in governmental, regulatory or legal aspects.
Our teaching is designed to impart a strong foundation in mathematics, life and physical sciences, and engineering, as well as knowledge of contemporary issues at the forefront of biomedical engineering research. Students completing the program will have:
(a) an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
(b) an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
(c) an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.
(d) an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams
(e) an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
(f) an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
(g) an ability to communicate effectively
(h) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context
(i) a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
(j) a knowledge of contemporary issues
(k) an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice
Areas of Specialization
As Biomedical Engineering is defined so broadly, specializing in a subfield of engineering can help to provide more in-depth expertise in a focus area. Through judicious selection of upper division engineering and science electives, students can create this depth in one of our suggested areas of specialization or in an area of the student’s choosing. One of the strengths of the UC Davis program is this flexibility to design one’s own emphasis of study.These specializations are neither required nor degree-notated.
This is a broad subfield that includes orthopedic/rehabilitation engineering, as well as the study of mechanical forces produced by biological systems. This includes the use of biomechanics principles applied to the design of wheelchairs and prosthetics, as well as to fluid dynamics of blood flow and forces acting on tissue in the artery to allow design of better cardiovascular interventions. This field involves more intensive study of mechanics, dynamics and thermodynamics.
Cellular and Tissue
Within cellular and tissue engineering, biomedical engineering principles are applied to control behavior at the gene, protein, cell, and tissue level. Scientists in this area can work in diverse areas including cellular therapies, protein production, gene therapy, tissue engineering and regeneration, and biomaterials development. Depending upon the area of interest, this field can require more in depth study in biomedical transport, natural or synthetic biomaterials, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. This area draws heavily from knowledge in the chemical and biological sciences.
The visualization of anatomical structure, physiological processes, metabolic activity and molecular expression in living tissues is important to accomplish goals that include the diagnosis of disease, the development of new therapeutics, the evaluation of the response to therapeutics, the guidance of interventional procedures. Our program has a particular strength in molecular imaging, in which molecular scale events are detected within living systems. An imaging bioengineer can work in areas ranging from developing instruments for imaging, to creating algorithms for three-dimensional reconstruction of imaging data, to generating new contrast agents for enhancing image quality. Depending upon the area of medical imaging of interest, this field can require more in depth study in electronics signal processing, chemistry, and computer programming.
Medical device engineering is a diverse area that can include the development of instruments, apparatuses, machines, implants, or in vitro reagents, intended for use in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of disease. Biomedical engineers have begun to combine technologies including pharmaceuticals, electronics and mechanical devices in the development of combination medical treatments.
Systems & Synthetic Biology
Concepts, principles and techniques from engineering are applied in this area to understand and build biological processes and systems at a fundamental level. Engineers describe biochemical, genetic, and biomechanical processes mathematically and integrate this information into models of natural and synthetic systems. These models are analyzed analytically, computationally and statistically to uncover design principles of natural systems and to guide development of methods capable of redirecting normal expression for biotechnological purposes or correcting pathological expression for therapeutic purposes.
Engineering is playing an increasing role in the practice of medicine, and students interested in medicine can focus on the intersection of engineering and medicine in this specialization. To meet admission requirements for the various medical school programs, students must complete extra course-work. These courses are in addition to the listed BME curricular requirements.