The physical proximity of the School of Medicine to UVA’s School of Engineering is a tremendous asset for us, especially as the overlap between medicine and engineering grows by the year. (For example, I’ve already told you about our Duchenne muscular dystrophy project.) To capitalize on that proximity — and the incredible array of expertise the schools offer — UVA created the Center for Engineering in Medicine. It aims to facilitate great work by researchers at those two schools and also at our School of Nursing, which sits right next to the School of Medicine.
The center was launched in 2017 with $5 million in funding from UVA and another $5 million from the School of Medicine and the School of Engineering. It already has vastly expanded the collaborations among the schools. More 120 faculty members across more than 20 departments are involved.
It’s also helping to train the next generation of researchers. The center embeds engineering students and postdocs into clinical environments, allowing them to work alongside doctors and nurses. Medical and nursing students and fellows, meanwhile, plunge into the unfamiliar territory of engineering labs. The goal is to create researchers who draw from both worlds to build a better tomorrow. Dr. Christopher Kramer, for example, leads an NIH-funded program for clinical fellows in advanced cardiovascular imaging techniques. The fellows’ research projects are often co-mentored by faculty in Biomedical Engineering. Such projects typically see a clinical fellow collaborating with a BME graduate student, and both trainees swap worlds: The clinical fellow will work in the collaborating engineering lab, while the grad student works in our radiology or cardiology department.
I’ve been at UVA for eight years now, and I cannot tell you how much our culture has shifted in that time. Labs used to be much more insular. But no more: There’s a real excitement about collaboration and the incredible potential it holds, and the Center for Engineering in Medicine is a sterling example of that.
In the photo above are some key players in our Center for Engineering in Medicine: Dr. Jeffrey Holmes (from left), a professor of Biomedical Engineering and Medicine and the center’s director; Julie Ann Radlinski, the center’s senior research program officer; and Dr. Mark Sochor, vice chairman for research, Emergency Medicine, and the center’s associate director.