Oct. 16, 2008
U of C announces plans for national biomedical engineering centre
The University of Calgary will expand its internationally recognized work in the rapidly growing field of biomedical engineering with the creation of the National Biomedical Engineering Innovation Centre-announced Oct. 15 at the university's annual Report to Community.
The Centre, announced by Harvey Weingarten, president of the University of Calgary, at his annual Report to Community today, will position Calgary—and Alberta—as a centre of biomedical engineering excellence and offer increased access to students interested in this high-demand field.
The U of C has become a national leader in the field of biomedical engineering, which is widely recognized as a field of research with great potential to improve the future of health care. International leaders at the U of C include Dr. Garnette Sutherland (developer of the neuroArm), Dr. Janet Ronsky (known for her scoliosis and joint research), Dr. Elise Fear (imaging expert), Dr. Cy Frank (known for his work at the helm of the Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute) and Dr. Sam Weiss (this year’s recipient of a Gairdner International Award and the director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute).
The National Biomedical Engineering Innovation Centre will be housed at the U of C. The Centre will offer training opportunities for approximately 200 additional undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to housing U of C researchers, the Centre will also welcome visiting scientists and staff from industry, other universities and other academic and non-academic partners. The U of C is currently working with various levels of provincial and federal governments on the project.
The university currently has more than $1 billion in capital expansion projects approved and underway, including the Taylor Family Digital Library and the Energy, Environment and Experiential Learning building. The capital expansion is designed to increase access in high-demand areas and offer students enhanced learning opportunities.
Economists predict that the field of biomedical engineering will be an $8-billion industry in Alberta in the next 10 years, employing 50,000 people. The new Centre builds on existing strengths at the U of C; more than 100 researchers from the Schulich School of Engineering and the faculties of science, nursing, medicine, kinesiology and veterinary medicine are currently engaged in leading edge biomedical engineering research.
“The University of Calgary is recognized nationally and internationally for our strengths in this field,” said Dr. Rosie Goldstein, Vice-President (Research). “The new Centre will further push the boundaries of health care discovery.”
The Centre will be founded on a principle of inter-disciplinary research and education, meaning that researchers and private sector experts from a variety of fields and disciplines will come together to tackle pressing health care needs. Priority areas include: bone and joint health; cardio-respiratory health; the brain; medical devices; enhanced imaging technologies; and robotics.
“Ultimately, this visionary biomedical engineering centre will do two things,” said Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, dean of the Schulich School of Engineering. “It will train the brightest minds of the 21st century in medically applied engineering and improve quality of life. It is a powerful combination.”
“Research in this field is already leading to some of the biggest advances in health—new and better treatments for devastating disease and injury, enhanced prevention and diagnosis,” said Dr. Naweed Syed, the head of the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy at the U of C’s Faculty of Medicine and a special advisor to the Vice-President (Research) on Biomedical Engineering. “We have an opportunity here to improve the health and wellbeing of all humans.”