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Northeastern Creates New Department of Bioengineering

January 8, 2014

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity has announced the cre­ation of the Depart­ment of Bio­engi­neering within the Col­lege of Engi­neering. The depart­ment will present exciting new research and learning oppor­tu­ni­ties across other col­leges and dis­ci­plines for stu­dents and fac­ulty and will leverage the health­care and biotech­nology indus­tries’ rapid growth.

The new depart­ment will incor­po­rate the college’s existing doc­toral pro­gram in bioengineering—the appli­ca­tion of engi­neering prin­ci­ples to bio­log­ical systems—and develop new bachelor’s and master’s degree pro­grams in this field. Stu­dents will also receive new and expanded expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­ni­ties through Northeastern’s sig­na­ture co-​​op program.

It will build upon the inno­v­a­tive research already underway by North­eastern fac­ulty and stu­dents across dis­ci­plines in areas such as tissue engi­neering, biode­vices, bio­me­chanics, and nan­otech­nology in med­i­cine and the envi­ron­ment. These projects include devel­oping carbon nan­otubes that could yield trans­for­ma­tive break­throughs in drug delivery; bio-​​bandages that mon­itor bac­te­rial growth or that help dam­aged lig­a­ments heal faster; sheets of cells folded like origami to form a working kidney; and new mate­rials that—like a leaf in the sun—automatically sense and adapt to changes in the environment.

Research pro­grams will also be devel­oped that align with the university’s com­mit­ment to research that addresses global chal­lenges in health, secu­rity, and sustainability.

“The new depart­ment is poised to flourish as an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary and col­lab­o­ra­tive envi­ron­ment for our stu­dents, our researchers, and our external part­ners in the bio­engi­neering domain,” said Nadine Aubry, dean of the Col­lege of Engineering.

Aubry said the Boston area’s exten­sive biotech industry and health cen­ters would also drive both research col­lab­o­ra­tions and the stu­dent experience.

Pro­fessor Lee Makowski is serving as the department’s interim chair. The search for the inau­gural depart­ment chair will begin in Spring 2014.

The new depart­ment builds upon Northeastern’s com­mit­ment to attracting and retaining world-​​class stu­dents and fac­ulty and strength­ening its research port­folio. Over the past seven years, the uni­ver­sity has appointed 387 tenured and tenure-​​track fac­ulty mem­bers, many of whom have exper­tise that inter­sects across col­leges and disciplines.

What’s more, the uni­ver­sity recently announced a new inter­dis­ci­pli­nary sci­ence and engi­neering research com­plex that will be built on Columbus Avenue in Rox­bury. Sched­uled for com­ple­tion in fall 2016, the state-​​of-​​the-​​art facility will pro­vide 220,000 square feet of research and edu­ca­tional space and is part of the university’s ongoing effort to expand its capacity to engage in path-​​breaking research across disciplines.