Letter from the Chair
Welcome to the UW Department of Bioengineering! Let me take a few minutes to give you some sense of the excitement that we share here. It's a particularly good time to be a bioengineer here. Situated in Seattle, a vibrant city on spectacular Puget Sound, the University of Washington is one of the largest and most prestigious research universities in the United States, with top-ranked departments across campus in many disciplines. One of our greatest advantages is that Bioengineering was equally grounded in the School of Medicine and the College of Engineering at its founding (as the Center for Bioengineering) in 1967 by Dr. Robert Rushmer, and remains a joint enterprise of both schools today. Under the inspired leadership of Chairs Rushmer, James Bassingthwaighte, Lee Huntsman and Yongmin Kim, the Department of Bioengineering has grown in size, complexity, funding, and stature.
Today, the Department of Bioengineering is large and growing; as I write we are an organism consisting of 43 active core faculty, 41 adjunct faculty (who can also mentor our graduate students), 46 affiliate faculty, 125 graduate students, 153 undergraduate students, 55 postdoctoral fellows and over 80 staff members.
Bioengineering is a field that has, from its origins, been multidisciplinary and highly diverse, but a bit hard to define. Through vigorous cross-training, bioengineers create and inhabit a workspace between medicine and the physical sciences, and between basic physiology and applied research in engineering. We have always been a home for mavericks whose ideas were too large to fit into the confines of more traditional disciplines, and we plan to keep welcoming the next generation of mavericks. Given trends in all of the bordering disciplines (from the explosion of medically-relevant information available on individuals, to the ability to move medical data to and from cell phones around the world), I’m certain that bioengineers will originate the most important innovations in the practice of medicine in the 21st century. We will also work to effectively bring those innovations to the people who need them. These are exciting times to be a bioengineer!
For decades our graduate students and postdoctoral fellows have gone on to become world leaders in academia, industry, and government; for this we have been long recognized as among the handful of top programs in the world. In the last decade, we put in place a College of Engineering-based undergraduate program that incorporates both design and 100% participation in a significant laboratory research project. In 2010 the undergraduate program was accredited by ABET, and is also now among the handful of top bioengineering undergraduate programs. Our students are second to none in both talent and work ethic, and they win a proportionately large number of local and national scholarships and awards--just last year, our senior cohort included a Rhodes Scholar and two Goldwater scholars.
Our equal footing in the School of Medicine and the College of Engineering allows us to garner very strong research support from federal agencies, particularly from NIH. Bioengineering research ranges from basic studies of physiology and biophysics, to applied work aimed at near-term clinical applications; these two extremes inform and complement each other in a very productive way.
We have a long and deep tradition of translating bioengineering research into patents, licenses, start-up companies, and products with significant impact on health. Spurred by funding under the Coulter Translational Research Partnerships, we have been building closer ties to the clinical faculty and to off-campus partners in the public and private sector who share our commitment to improving health. In 2011 we launched the Bioengineering Affiliates Program (BioE-AP)--a community that includes both the department and off-campus partners with a stake in translating new technologies into important new clinical products. We will be building that program over the next few years.
Strong external partnerships exist with many other departments, particularly in the College of Engineering and the School of Medicine, and with the Center for Industrial and Medical Ultrasound (CIMU) at the Applied Physics Laboratory, Seattle Children’s and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
As we move into the second decade of the 21st century, we are poised to build on our historical disciplinary strengths, and to increase our presence in exciting new areas of research. This is based in part on strong ties being formed between our department at other entities on campus and in the Seattle area. New alliances with the UW Department of Global Health, the UW Department of Physics, the UW Molecular Science & Engineering Institute (housed in a building that opened in the fall of 2012, and directed by our own Professor Patrick Stayton), UW’s NSF Engineering Research Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering, and with Seattle’s nonprofit PATH broaden and strengthen our program. We are particularly excited by our new graduate educational track in imaging, and formation of a new interdisciplinary center in synthetic biology at UW.
Explore our faculty and research sections to find more about our research work.
The Department of Bioengineering is committed to training a cadre of interdisciplinary professionals who will be equipped with the skills to become the leaders of science, engineering and medicine.
With strong research programs and funding, and innovative partnerships, the Department of Bioengineering is an exciting place to be as a student or a member of the staff, and certainly as a member of the faculty!. New discoveries in many fields are advancing our scientific knowledge. Technologies arising from rapidly advancing multidisciplinary endeavors are already revolutionizing the healthcare system, and our faculty, students and alumni are helping to make it happen.
If you have questions about the Department of Bioengineering (and I hope you do), you should begin by exploring our website further—many of the ideas I’ve touched on here are explored in much greater depth. We’ve put a lot of information about us within a few clicks. Next, contact us. We’ll be happy to discuss your questions with you. Thanks again for your interest!
— Paul Yager, Ph.D.
Professor and W. Hunter and Dorothy L. Simpson Endowed Chair