NIH-funded summer program introduces pediatric bioengineering to undergraduates

By Holly Korschun | Woodruff Health Sciences Center | Jan. 16, 2014

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A new undergraduate summer training program will introduce future scientists and physicians to bioengineering research possibilities for pediatric diseases.

A new summer training program at Emory University will introduce undergraduate students to research in the field of pediatric bioengineering. The program is funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health.

The new program is a collaborative effort among the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, the Department of Pediatrics in Emory University School of Medicine, the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURE) in Emory College, and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

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Nearly $500,000 in funding over five years will allow 10 talented undergraduate students each year from around the United States to work for a pediatric engineering project over the summer.

"This is one of the only training programs in the country focused solely on pediatric bioengineering," says Michael E. Davis, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory and director of the Pediatric Center for Cardiovascular Biology at Emory and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Nearly $500,000 in funding over five years will allow 10 talented undergraduate students each year from around the United States to work for a pediatric engineering project over the summer. The students also will shadow clinicians to better understand childhood diseases and receive training in scientific reading, writing, and scientific processes.

Davis is co-principal investigator along with Barbara J. Stoll, MD, George W. Brumley, Jr. Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics in Emory School of Medicine.

"This program is a broad effort involving many faculty and physicians across three institutions – Emory, Georgia Tech, and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta – and 10 departments," says Stoll. "This is a wonderful opportunity to translate our growing success in pediatric research to the undergraduate population, some of whom may be future leaders in biomedical engineering and/or medicine."

Pat Marsteller, PhD, director of the Emory Center for Science Education, integrated the new program into the existing SURE program, and pediatric physician-scientist Wilbur Lam, MD, will direct the program's clinical component.

Bioengineering research projects in the summer program could involve pediatric conditions ranging from cardiovascular diseases, to infectious diseases to neurological conditions and others.

For the past 15 years the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, ranked second by U.S. News & World Report for its graduate program, has led a visionary public-private partnership between these leading schools of engineering and medicine. The department also is home to the only pediatric nanomedicine research center in the country and to the Atlanta Pediatric Device Consortium.

Emory's Department of Pediatrics has a vibrant research program in child health and is now ranked 5th in NIH funding among departments of pediatrics in the United States. Emory and Georgia Tech have developed increasingly robust research partnerships with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Students needing more information may contact Michael Davis at mdavis41@mail.gatech.edu.