Strategic Plan (Draft)

Department of Biomedical Engineering Strategic Plan 2016-2021 (Draft)


The Biomedical Engineering program started in 1967 as an MS option in the Department of Electrical Engineering. The Department of Biomedical Engineering was formally established in 1979 as an MS program. The PhD program was begun in 1981. The first undergraduate class graduated in 1993. The undergraduate program received its first ABET accreditation in 1997, and has been continuously accredited since then. There have been 3 Department chairs: Dr. Jacob Kline (founding chairman: 1979-86), Dr. Peter Tarjan (1986-97), Dr. Özcan Özdamar (1997-pres).

Compared to other programs nationwide, BME is a small to medium size department (13 tenured or tenure track faculty members), with high undergraduate enrollment (>300 students) and medium-sized MS (30 students) and PhD (35 students) programs. The faculty's research focus and graduate curriculum can be divided into three broad areas:

  • biomedical imaging, optics, and lasers
  • neural engineering, biomedical signals and instrumentation
  • biomechanics, microfluidics, biomaterials and tissue engineering.

Past Growth:

The Department has relied heavily on collaborations with the School of Medicine to sustain its activities and support its growth. Since 2007-2008:

  • The regular faculty has grown from 9 to 13 full-time tenured or tenure-track members (+44%)
  • Annual research expenditures of primary faculty have increased substantially (from $0.8 to $2.1M)
  • Undergraduate enrollment has grown substantially, from 196 to 304 students (+55%)
  • MS and PhD enrollment has remained approximately constant (MS=29, PhD=34)
  • Departmental staff increased from 2 to 3 full-time personnel
  • Space occupied at the College of Engineering has remained about constant
  • In 2015: Faculty=22%; Enrollment=27%; Research expenditures=37% of College of Engineering totals.

Areas of strength

  • Access to the research and clinical resources of the School of Medicine significantly increases our competitiveness when recruiting faculty and graduate students and applying for funding. The department has strong ties with leading clinical and research institutes, including Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Diabetes Research Institute, BioNIUM, Sylvester Cancer Center, Stem Cell Institute, Otolaryngology, Orthopedics, Radiology, Stem Cell Institute, Transplant Center, Neurological Surgery.
  • Our faculty and students conduct funded research in areas that have direct health relevance, in collaboration with clinicians.
  • Our graduate student body is diverse, with a high proportion of students from underrepresented groups in STEM disciplines, particularly female (41%) and Hispanic (26%) students
  • Faculty and students receive highly competitive grant awards from the NIH and NSF
  • Faculty serve on editorial boards, conference committees, grant review panels
  • PhD graduates secure postdoctoral fellowships in leading laboratories in their fields
  • BS graduates enroll in top-ranked MD, MD-PhD, PhD programs (Duke, Stanford, Georgia Tech, …)
  • Interdisciplinary connections with clinical departments and research institutes at the Miller School of Medicine (6 faculty members have joint appointments at MSoM, 9 faculty members have their research laboratories at MSoM, the Medical Physics program is coordinated jointly with the Department of Radiation Oncology, BME and MSoM faculty members are partners on funded research and training).

Areas of weakness

  • Insufficient space for faculty, teaching and research labs
  • Insufficient number of TAs, RAs and post-docs
  • Insufficient number of administrative teaching/research support personnel
  • No administrative/teaching space in the Medical School

Growth opportunities:

  • BME is a growing field of undergraduate study that attracts top students who seek to pursue graduate study. The popularity of BME as an undergraduate field of study and the quality of BME graduates represents an opportunity to grow the PhD program.
  • There is a demand from industry for biomedical engineers with advanced training in systems engineering and regulatory aspects of medical devices. This demand represents an opportunity to grow the MS program.
  • The growth of the local biomedical industry and current biotech initiatives represent an opportunity for increased collaboration with industry.
  • Clinicians and scientists increasingly seek engineering expertise to help translate new approaches for diagnosis or therapy. This demand represents an opportunity to continue to expand our doctoral program and to jointly recruit new faculty members.

Specific Goals:

  • Hands-on instructional laboratories, particularly wet labs.
  • Additional laboratory spaces at the Coral Gables campus
  • Administrative, teaching and research space at the Miller School of Medicine
  • Additional office space for current faculty and to support growth
  • 6 additional TAs to help support the teaching needs of the Department
  • 1 additional staff member for graduate program coordination, research support and communication
  • 1 technical personnel to manage the instructional laboratories and assist students with their projects (3D printing, SEM, design projects, …etc.)
  • Increase the size of the PhD program from 34 to 50 students and enhance student quality.
  • Increase the size of the MS program from 29 to 40 students and enhance the professional content of the MS curriculum.

The Department identified the following strategic development areas for the UM initiatives:

  1. Excellence in Basic and Applied Science and Engineering
    • Increase the research productivity across the Department with a focus on high impact areas including neural, stem cell, tissue engineering, bio-micro and nanotechnology, bioimaging, and biomaterials.
    • Develop stronger partnerships with industry in education and research related to biomedical devices and technology (e.g., Innovia, IHS, MAKO, Magic Leap).
    • Expand collaborations with science/computer programs in the College of Arts and Sciences and leading units at the Miller School of Medicine in research and training (e.g. computational neuroscience, diabetes research, radiation oncology)
    • Expand research within our current core research areas, with an emphasis on high impact research at the interface between engineering and medicine through joint hires with leading clinical departments or research institutes at the School of Medicine or the College of Arts and Sciences.
    • Develop strategies to retain junior and senior faculty.
    • Seek funding through major programmatic initiatives, including training grants, educational grants, multi-institutional collaborative grants.
    • Increase the participation of industry partners in graduate training and collaborative research.
    • Increase the participation of School of Medicine investigators in PhD student mentoring.
  2. Problem-Based Interdisciplinary Collaboration
    • Establish interdisciplinary centers and institutes within UM for various biomedical engineering disciplines (e.g. Neural Engineering institute)
    • Expand collaborations with the existing centers and institutes within UM involving biomedical sciences (e.g. BioNiUM, Miami Project, DRI)
    • Expand or establish new programs or collaborations with the College of Arts and Sciences and Miller School of Medicine in biomedical fields involved in BME (e.g., functional MRI facility within the new Neuroscience Annex of the Department of Psychology for brain imaging, medical physics program with Radiation Oncology, brain imaging with neurology/radiology).
  3. Hemispheric Innovation
    • Expand the visibility of the department at the international level especially in the Americas.
    • Develop collaborative educational, training and research programs with the Latin American universities and biomedical companies.
  4. Educational Innovation
    • Develop goal-based engineering teaching strategies based on modern cognitive learning
    • Design new MS programs with industrial goals and entrepreneurial mindset
  5. Excellence in Administration
    • Make administration more accountable and transparent by using digital and quantitative methods.
    • Make department more visible both internally and externally
  6. Culture of Belonging
    • Emphasize diversity in faculty, students, research groups, student societies and training groups (SD teams)
    • Emphasize participation and togetherness faculty, students and staff in all administrative decision
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