The BME program has recently begun to focus on biomolecular engineering, which involves the application of modern molecular biology and genetics to engineering problems. Rapid progress in molecular biology, much of it sparked by the Human Genome Project, is opening up a new arena in biomedical engineering. These research areas currently focus on bimolecular structure and function, as well as, nano-technologies used in the design of biosensors. In addition, there are significant research opportunities in bioinformatics, drug discovery, and health informatics.
Cardiovascular biomechanics focuses on the cardiovascular system in health and diseases such as hypertension, flow-overload and heart failure. At IUPUI, researchers study the structure-function relationship in the cardiovascular system and, in particular, the coronary circulation under physiological and patho-physiological states. They utilize the experimental reductionist approach to dissect the coronary vascular system into its molecular, cellular and tissue components (e.g., nitric oxide, endothelium, micro-structural components of the vessel wall, blood vessel wall, etc. as shown in figure). The computational integrative approach is then used to synthesize the entire coronary vascular circuit to understand the whole organ.
The Krannert Institute of Cardiology is one of the major academic programs in cardiology in the United States. A number of faculty participate in joint cardiology/engineering research in areas of cardiac electrophysiology, echocardiography, vascular biology, and tissue engineering.
Mechanobiology merges the older science of mechanics with the newer and emerging disciplines of molecular biology and genetics. At the center of mechanobiology is the cellular process of mechanotransduction, or the way cells sense and respond to mechanical forces. Of the five senses defined by Aristotle - sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch - two require cellular mechanotransduction. In addition what is often called the sixth sense, our sense of space and location called proprioception, relies on mechanosensors as does the sense of balance. There are many clinical applications of mechanobiology, including orthodontic tooth movement, distraction osteogenesis, artery stents, artificial heart valves, as well as promising new treatments for diabetes, muscular dystrophy and osteoporosis.
Biomaterials research covers the areas of bioartificial membranes and surface properties of biomaterials with an emphasis on the biofunctionalization of inorganic solid and polymeric material with membranes in order to mimic native membrane activity.
Imaging has several modalities and application areas throughout the campus, primarily in the Imaging Science Division of the Department of Radiology. Faculty utilize the entire array of clinical imaging systems including X-ray tomography, PET, MRI (including a research dedicated system), and ultrasound and are widely recognized as leaders in neurological, cardiovascular, and oncologic research, as well as tissue characterization.
Neurosciences overlap with many areas in biomedical engineering ranging from the development of cochlear implants to basic electrophysiology to modeling ion channel dynamics using real time feedback control of in-vitro membrane responsiveness. In both cases, students have developed novel digital signal processor based devices to enhance both clinical application and scientific discovery. In addition, there is active research in neural control of prostheses. This technology will some day allow people to control an artificial leg or arm with their own brain signals.