Biomedical engineering applies the engineering sciences to advance knowledge and solve problems in biology and medicine. Such work is at the interface between traditional engineering and medicine. As a result, biomedical engineering education requires integration of life sciences and traditional engineering curricula.
Biomedical engineering is a rapidly evolving field over the past few decades. Currently, its areas of research and education include:
- Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
- Biomechanics of Tissues, Cells and Molecules
- Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering
- Tissue Engineering and Artificial Organs
- Cardiovascular Engineering
- Neural Engineering
- Orthopedic Engineering
- Respiratory Systems Engineering
- Drug and Gene Delivery
- Biomedical Instrumentation and Devices
- Biomedical Imaging
- Genomic Technology
Some well-known accomplishments in biomedical engineering are cardiac pacemaker, computerized imaging, magnetic resonance imaging, artificial heart, biomechanical theories in orthopedics and sports medicine, and quantitative analyses of electrical phenomena in the brain, heart and muscle. These accomplishments have significantly impacted diagnosis and treatment of injuries and diseases. Meanwhile, achievements in many new areas of biomedical engineering, such as tissue engineering, neural engineering, and drug and gene delivery, are providing enabling technologies for improving health care in the world.
The undergraduate major in biomedical engineering at Duke University was accredited in September 1972 by the Engineering Council for Profession Development (now the Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology). It is one of the first accredited and the largest programs in biomedical engineering. It has been consistently ranked as one of the best biomedical engineering programs in the nation. The program has an excellent multidisciplinary environment, combining the resources of the top life science departments in the nation, a world-renowned medical school, and a group of exceptionally capable engineering faculty.
The curricula in this program consist of interdisciplinary courses and many research opportunities for undergraduate students. Students can receive up to two academic credits for the participation in research sponsored by the biomedical engineering faculty. Examples of the areas of research include biomechanics, cardiac electrophysiology, neuroengineering, drug and gene delivery, medical imaging, tissue engineering, biosensors, biophotonics, genomic technology and biomaterials.
Se complete information about the BME curriculum and advising.
All engineering students at Duke University are required to declare a major in the sophomore year. Once their major is declared, BME majors are assigned to faculty advisors in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Biomedical engineering students who want to pursue additional areas of interest can also choose to have a double-major in biomedical engineering and either electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, or other disciplines in the Trinity College.
After graduation, about one-third of our students plan to attend graduate schools in various engineering or basic science disciplines and one-fifth plan to enter medical or dental schools. (The rate of acceptance is significantly higher than the national average of all different undergraduate programs.) The rest go to law schools, business schools, industries or consulting firms.
How to Apply
Find everything you need to know about applying to Duke University, from deadlines to application instructions and more.
Independent study research projects are an integral and immensely popular component of undergraduate BME education at Duke. In any given semester, about one-third of the majors are taking an independent study course. Up to two such courses may be counted as BME electives if they are taken in the junior or senior years.
In an independent study course students work with a faculty supervisor to focus on a special topic of the student's choosing by self-guided readings, developing and/or running computer simulations, and/or laboratory experiments. Students interested in independent study are encouraged to approach faculty members to discuss opportunities. For ideas on whom to approach, look through the BME faculty list for professors whose research and interests match yours. Students participating in the Grand Challenges Scholar Program and/or contributing to the efforts of the Duke Smart Home may obtain independent study credits for their work if their project is supervised by a BME faculty.
Advantages of Independent Study
Independent study course work can be used to satisfy requirements toward Graduation with Departmental Distinction (GwDD), provided the student's GPA is at least 3.5. In addition, the best research projects are eligible for the BME Departmental awards: the Helmholtz Award, the Clark Awards, and the Edward D. "Ned" Light Memorial Award.
Examples of Student Projects
- Implementing a Rechargeable Battery for an Implantable Neural Acquisition System
- Functional Endoscopic Imaging for Enhanced Detection of Cancerous Lesions
- Electrophysiological Characterization of a Novel Genetically Engineered Biological Pacemaker
- Biomechanics of Microbicide Gel Distribution and Efficacy
- Improved In Vivo Visualization of Injected Anesthetics Using Ultrasonic Decorrelation Algorithms
- Emergent Network Bursting and Synchrony in Computer Simulations of Neuronal Cultures
- Evaluation of Pediatric Skull Fracture Imaging Techniques
- Guidance of Surgical Robotics with 3-D Ultrasound
- Uses of the Pratt Pouch with Antiretroviral Medication for the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV
- Pitch Mismatch in Bilateral Cochlear Implants Using an Acoustic Mode
- Nanotherapeutics: Dual Functional Nanoparticles for Gene Delivery and Tissue Engineering
Registration for Independent Study Courses
To register for a BME independent study course, each student should first meet with his/her project supervisor to discuss the project title, its description, biomedical and engineering content of the project, the nature of the final product, and the grading basis. With this information in hand, the student fills one of the following requests forms:
- BME Design Fellows: 3 semester + summer intensive design experiences. Students are required to take all three (3) semesters and complete the summer internship. The first course is a half-credit BME 390S Design Fundamentals class, followed by a guaranteed summer internship at either a BME-focused company in Research Triangle Park or at the hospital, where students will perform needs-finding followed by enrollment into the two-semester BME design course of their choice in the fall. Inquire by email
- BME Independent Study Request Form: for BME juniors and seniors who are not Pratt Fellows. Courses: BME 394, 493, and BME 494
- Pratt Fellowship-BME Registration Request Form: for BME juniors and seniors who are Pratt Fellows. Courses: BME 394, BME 493, and BME 494
- EGR Independent Study Request Form: for BME freshmen and sphomores. Courses: EGR 391 (183) and EGR 491 (184)
The deadline for submitting the request is two business days before the drop/add ends .The forms will not be active after the deadline, so make sure to submit your request on time.
After you've submitted the forms, learn how to check the status of your independent study request.
More information on BME Independent Study and Graduation with Departmental Distinction requirements is available in the BME Undergraduate Handbook (PDF).