Biomedical Engineering students select one of the four tracks listed below and need to choose BME and Track electives within their Track.
For a list of BME electives, click here.
For a list of Engineering (Track) electives, click here.
Biomaterials concern the development and selection of appropriate materials to place inside the human body. Such selection ranks among the most difficult tasks faced by biomedical engineers. It demands an understanding of the physical and chemical properties of the living tissue that a material will assist or replace. The material to be implanted must cause no harmful effects, such as poisonous reactions or cancer. In turn, the body must not damage the materials of the implant. For most devices implanted for a long period of time, the materials must be chemically inactive, durable enough to withstand the repeated stresses of a lifetime, and harmless to the tissues and blood. Implantable materials include certain ceramics, metal alloys, and plastics. In addition, the Biomaterials track includes aspects of biochemical engineering, tissue engineering, and biotechnology. Biochemical engineering involves biotechnology and processes that convert natural materials such as sugars into molecules such as therapeutic proteins, and harnessing the synthetic capabilities of cells and genetic engineering. Tissue engineering is the study of tissue dynamics that coordinate tissue repair, replacement, and reconstruction. Biotechnology involves the production of medicaments and vaccines, as well as in, the emergence of stem-cell and gene therapies. Examples include antibiotics produced by specially designed organisms and genetic cures engineered through genomic manipulation.
Bioinformatics involves developing and using computer tools to collect and analyze data related to medicine and biology. It may involve the analysis of information stored in the genetic code or the analysis of experimental results derived from various sources such as patient data and published literature. Work in bioinformatics includes methods for data storage and analysis and may involve using sophisticated techniques to manage and search databases of gene sequences that contain many millions of entries. Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary aspect of BME and relies on the principles and practices of many areas including mathematics, statistics, biochemistry, physics, and computer science and informatics.
Biomechanics, or biological mechanics, uses the principles of mechanics to investigate the effects of energy and forces on biological matter and/or material systems in order to model and predict the mechanical behavior of a living system. Biomechanics is often broken down into two aspects: biofluid mechanics and biosolid mechanics, where biofluid mechanics deals with the properties and movement of fluids under the influence of a force while biosolid mechanics deals with the properties and movement of solids. A typical focus is the cardiovascular system and blood’s flow properties. Biomechanical engineers also study the flow of fluids in the body and the transfer of chemical substances across membranes and synthetic materials. Biomechanics also includes the study of motion, material deformation, and fluid flow. For example, studies of the fluid dynamics involved in blood circulation have contributed to the development of artificial hearts, while an understanding of joint mechanics has contributed to the design of prosthetic limbs.
Biosystems, Imaging & Instrumentation
Biosystems engineering is commonly defined as the analysis, design, and control of biologically-based systems and plays an essential role in the development of devices and instruments for medical purposes. Biomedical imaging involves the use of technology to image biological molecules, cells, tissues, organs, body parts, and/or the entire human body. It is commonly used in the detection and characterization of existing and/or developing pathologies and relies heavily on imaging analyses and computer diagnoses. Biosignal processing is used by biomedical engineers to detect, classify, and analyze signals produced by the body. It is widely used in medical devices, such as an implantable defibrillator that acts as a personal physician monitoring the biosignal of the heart and, if a heart attack occurs, the device restores normal heart function. In addition, this track contains many aspects of bioinstrumentation, which uses electronics, measurement principles and techniques, and innovative biosensors to develop devices for monitoring, diagnosing, and treating diseases. Bioinstrumentation used by physicians can be seen monitoring the condition of patients during surgery or during intensive care. Bioinstrumentation engineers develop and investigate many tools to detect, diagnose, and study biological conditions. For example, medical imaging systems apply energy, such as X rays, or sound waves, to the body to create detailed pictures of internal structures. Biomedical engineers have developed certain lasers and other devices to help treat disorders. Lasers, which produce narrow, powerful beams of light, make possible bloodless surgery on blood vessels, nerve fibers, retinas and corneas.
It is never too early to learn more about these tracks. Check the Journal holdings at the UConn Libraries or ask a Reference Librarian for assistance. You should also ask your BME Instructors, TAs, and Upperclassmen for more information about these tracks.