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Biomedical Engineering Doctoral Program Approved for FallUH Health Gets Boost with New Ph.D. Option, Focusing on Health Care Costs

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August 20, 2010-Houston-
The University of Houston (UH) health initiative has received a major boost from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which recently approved the establishment of a doctoral program in biomedical engineering.

“The approval of this program is extremely important for UH Health,” said Joseph W. Tedesco, Elizabeth D. Rockwell Endowed Chair and dean of the UH Cullen College of Engineering. “With ongoing research partnerships at the Texas Medical Center (TMC) and the launch of a new department of biomedical engineering, we now have the infrastructure to support and maintain a well-funded doctoral research program in the biomedical sciences.”

The new doctoral program will be launched this fall alongside existing bachelor’s and master’s degree options in biomedical engineering, giving current and prospective students a greater opportunity to pursue a terminal degree while studying in Houston’s prolific medical research community.

“We’ve had many students pursuing biomedical-related doctoral research within our interdisciplinary programs,” said Suresh Khator, associate dean of graduate studies. “Now, we will be able offer a degree focused specifically on biomedical engineering topics and further capitalize on collaborative efforts with partner institutions at the TMC.”

Research in the doctoral program will focus on three main areas – neural, cognitive and rehabilitation engineering; biomedical imaging; and genomics and proteomics. The overall goal will be to understand what causes diseases so that accurate and affordable medications and therapies can be developed for treatment.

“Our program will discover, develop and deliver technological solutions aimed at reducing health care costs,” said Metin Akay, founding chair of UH’s department of biomedical engineering. “That’s the difference between our program and the more than 90 others in the United States.”

Specifically, the program’s neural and cognitive research area will explore everything from neural implants and neurochip development to the effects of neurogenesis on brain function. Biomedical imaging will focus on molecular, cellular and clinical imaging as it relates to cardiovascular and neurological therapeutics. Research in the genomics and proteomics area will be geared toward cancer studies and involves the investigation of gene regulatory systems and networks, as well as intelligent drug delivery and design.

“These three emerging fields have enjoyed significant growth and provide tremendous opportunities for the development of new technologies that will have a major impact on health care,” Akay said. “These thrust areas also complement the other existing biomedical engineering Ph.D. programs in Houston and Texas.”

In further developing the department, Akay hopes to hire as many as 12 more tenure-track faculty during the next three years, create a distinguished biomedical engineering lecture series and continue stimulating research collaborations with the TMC.
      
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About the University of Houston
The University of Houston is a comprehensive national research institution serving the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships.  UH serves 37,000 students in the nation’s fourth-largest city in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country. 

About the Cullen College of Engineering
For more than 69 years, the UH Cullen College of Engineering has played a vitally important role in educating engineers in Texas. Its nationally-competitive programs are taught by innovative faculty, eleven of whom are members of the National Academy of Engineering. The college offers degree programs in biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, environmental, industrial, mechanical and petroleum engineering with specialty programs in materials, aerospace and computer and systems engineering. 

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