In late September, the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees approved a plan to establish a formal Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME). The new department will be jointly created, administered and sustained at the Storrs campus by the School of Engineering, the School of Medicine and School of Dental Medicine at the UConn Health Center, Farmington.
“These three schools have a rich history of accomplishment and shared collaboration, and the creation of a vibrant and high profile BME Department will strengthen and expand our partnership while dramatically elevating recognition for UConn’s contributions in the transformative areas where engineering, medicine, genomics and dental medicine converge,” said Dr. Kazem Kazerounian, Interim Dean of Engineering.
The Biomedical Engineering Department will arise, in a much-expanded form, from the current Biomedical Engineering (BME) program within the UConn School of Engineering, which began more than 45 years ago and offers B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. The bachelor’s degree program was accredited in 2007 and has seen dramatic growth in recent years. It has the second-largest student population in the School of Engineering, at 311 B.S. students during the 2011-12 academic year and 60 graduate students.
According to Dr. Kazerounian, about half of the BME Department faculty will be primarily affiliated with the School of Engineering, while the remainder will be chiefly affiliated with the Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine. More than 50 faculty members from engineering, biomedical science, materials science, chemistry, physics, medicine and dental medicine, form the existing core teaching and research cohort. Importantly, this cohort will grow in coming years as the University begins its ambitious plan to hire an additional 500 new faculty across all disciplines at UConn through 2016.
Recent developments in Connecticut – including the State’s support for a Bioscience Connecticut Initiative, the Jackson Laboratory’s commitment to establish a state-of-the-art R&D center in Farmington, and the rise in biomedical device, instrumentation and genomic product companies such as Covidien – paired with the continuing rise in undergraduate enrollments in BME, make this is an ideal time to transition the BME program to a vibrant full department.