The Departments of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh (UOP) and Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) are seeking continued support for a predoctoral training program (6 positions total per year) aimed at providing a solid foundation upon which to build a productive and independent career in biomechanics as applied to regenerative medicine (BiRM). This goal is accomplished through a highly coordinated and mentored interdisciplinary program that combines required and elective courses, research activities, and specialized training opportunities. The Training Program incorporates faculty from the Departments of Bioengineering (UOP), Biomedical Engineering (CMU), and Mechanical Engineering (UOP and CMU), and the UOP School of Medicine Departments of Orthopedic Surgery, Vascular Surgery, Urology, and the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. This unique combination of training faculty research interests and coursework provides a rich educational experience and more numerous training opportunities for students than could be obtained within the individual university departments. The breadth of research areas that span multiple physiological systems (cardiovascular, musculo-skeletal, urological) provides a unique opportunity for students to become highly skilled problem solvers by appreciating generalized approaches that are system-independent. Moreover, the since the BiRM program is not central to any one department, it provides students with inter-departmental didactic and research experience - overcoming the departmental based administrative roadblocks that traditionally exist in conventional programs., By permitting a much wider choice of options with which to pursue a PhD in developing and applying biomechanical approaches to regenerative medicine research. the BiRM program permits ever increasing educational options for the students and research collaborations. Candidate BiRM fellows are drawn primarily from engineering schools, although the program also welcomes students from biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Program coursework (didactic courses, lecture series, workshops) is designed to provide both breadth and depth in engineering and biological sciences and also includes a formal exposure to biostatistics, bioethics, and professional and career development. Finally, each student receives extensive research training in the laboratories of the training faculty. Twelve predoctoral trainees have participated in the program during the current (first) cycle and we believe that the trainee performance and program outcomes have been outstanding (see Progress Report).
Regenerative medicine uses a variety of approaches, such as tissue engineering, cellular therapies, biosurgery and artificial and biohybrid organ devices, to address tissue/organ insufficiency. Yet, despite several early successes, bioengineers have faced challenges in repairing or replacing tissues that serve a predominantly biomechanical function. Therefore, we believe that individuals trained in both biomechanical engineering principles and biology are critically needed to develop novel therapeutic approaches for advancing regenerative medicine therapies. The proposed program aims to provide such training to students pursuing a doctoral degree in bioengineering.
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