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    Here is a "summary" of the responses I received. Merry Christmas to you

    Clemens Rossell
    Edward Draper, PhD., BSc, MIMechE, CEng, MBES
    Principal Research Fellow in Bioengineering Orthopaedic Surgery Unit
    Royal Postgraduate Medical School
    London W12 ONN, England

    I've been a biomedical engineer for over fifteen years, I started with a
    Mech Eng degree. I ran a service in Edinburgh in Scotland designing one-off
    devices for the physically handicapped. I did that for ten years, until I
    moved into full time research. I now work in the Department of Orthopaedic
    Surgery here in London, England. I am involved in a wide range of
    activities. Designing and manufacturing new equipement, running a
    custom-made joint replacement service, computer medical audit systems, and
    much much more. The pay is bad, the stress horrendous, the carrer prospects
    non-existent. But I help to make sick people better, and I sleep at night.
    If you are thinking of this area as a career, then you could do a lot better
    elsewhere, but you'll be hard pushed to find an area which is more demanding
    and more fun.
    Joe Spadaro, Ph.D., Associate Professor
    Orthopedic Research
    S.U.N.Y. Health Science Center - Syracuse

    For one example, you might want to try looking at the web page for the
    Dept. of Bioengineering at Syracuse University, which is fairly complete by
    now . You can derive further contacts from there. Start with
    URL: and look for "Bioengineering and Neuroscience" on
    the university directory. If interested in the program for yourself,
    contact the Bioengineering secretary, Kay Nentwick (a really nice person) by
    e-mail at:, Bye.
    J. Pierre Baudin, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
    School of Recreation and Physical Education
    Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Phone: (902)542-2200 ext. 1560
    Fax: (902)542-1451

    To find a large amount of information on Biomedical Engineering I would
    direct you to the World Wide Web site called Biomechanics World Wide. It
    has a whole section on Biomedical Engineering. The URL or address of it is Hope this helps.
    Professor Robert Soutas-Little
    Director Biomechanics Evaluation Laboratory
    Michigan State University

    The best definition is the application of an engineering science to medical
    problems. If that science is Newtonian mechanics or the science of forces,
    motion, deformation of materials, strength of materials, etc then most
    biomechanics people work with the muscular skeletal system. But if the
    individual was interested in fluid mechanics, he/she might work with blood
    flow. What you must realize is what we have to offer to the medical field is
    the physical science and mathematical skills. For example, I direct a
    biomechanics and biodynamics laboratory where orthopedic surgeons and
    rehabilitation physicians send patients to be evaluated. We measure joint
    motion, forces and muscle activity and use these to advise the possible
    outcome of different treatments. We measure balance by the movement of the
    center of mass relative to the point of reaction force between the feet and
    the ground. Other biomechanists will measure the properties of ligaments or
    tendons and how these properties change with disease, drugs, exercise, age,
    etc. Then the stiffness of the tendon can be use as a measure of recovery,
    reaction to a certain drug, etc. giving a quantitative measure which
    clinical people did not have before. Electrical engineers look at the
    nervous system in addition to medical instrumentation. Computer scientists
    are concerned with medical imaging and interpertation of these images. If
    you have interest in biomedical engineering, you should first determine
    which engineering science most interests you and then look at applications
    of that branch of engineering to medicine.
    Trina Buhr

    Biomedical engineering is quite a varied field. Although I have an
    undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering (from the University of
    Iowa), a masters degree in biomedical engineering, and am currently a Ph.D.
    student in biomedical engineering (at the University of Michigan), I am
    still hearing about biomedical engineering areas that I never knew existed.
    I will give you a short summary of some of the things my friends and I have
    explored in the biomedical engineering field: the artificial heart, heart
    valve replacements,
    artificial arteries, ultrasound, MRI, PET, and other types of medical
    imaging devices, medical equipment development and maintenance surgery tools,
    artificial joint replacements, computer modeling of bone and tissues,
    rehabilitation engineering jobs, such as alternative communication methods,
    wheelchair design, etc.; dental implants, dental tools, artificial limb
    development, design of orthotics and prosthetics, artificial organs (such as
    the kidney), movement analysis (studying how the body moves, why different
    people, move differently; how surgeons might change the insertions of
    muscles to help a person with cerebral palsy walk better, studying why older
    people are more likely to fall, etc.) etc. Essentially, we apply engineering
    techniques to better understand, repair, or model the body.
    Brian L. Davis, PhD

    If you have access to the World Wide Web, you are welcome to look at the
    home page produced by our department of Biomedical Engineering. It includes
    examples of BME ranging from designing artificial human hearts to analyzing
    ultrasound images of human tissue to studying the effects of arthritis on
    cartilage to quantifying the way people perform movements. In my homepage
    there is a link to a page on Biomedical Engineering sponsored
    by The Whitaker Foundation. (I believe this is maintained at Purdue
    Jeffrey P. Rouleau
    Orthopaedic Research Laboratories
    University of Michigan

    You'll find that bioengineers combine the fields of biology and engineering,
    but range from nearly all biology to all engineering. All fields of
    engineering (nuclear, mechanical, chemical, materials science, electrical,
    ..) are represented as are all fields of biology. This is why most people
    have a difficult time defining the role of a bioengineer. I am interested
    in orthopaedic biomechanics, or more specifically, ways to speed fracture
    healing. In short, think about any hospital or medical appliance/tool - it
    was designed by a bioengineer, regardless of whether he/she was an MD or a
    mechanical engineer by job title.
    Dave Thompson, Professor & Chairman
    Department of Mechanical Engineering
    The University of New Mexico
    Albuquerque, NM 87131

    There are several tracks for people who seek this kind of training:

    (A.) Research - Usually the individual gets a PhD, works to advance the
    state of knowledge in the field of medicine and translate this into
    devices, techniques, etc that improve health care. While most in this
    field interact with clinicians, their advances are more general and they
    subsequently may help millions of patients because of advances they make.
    This field requires the highest technical skills possible. It is more
    important to take technical coursese in this arena that to gather medical
    knowledge. As an example, most of my MS and PhD students take no physiology,
    anatomy or other courses. Whatever medical knowledge they need, either I or
    my medical colleagues teach them on an individual or small group basis. Such
    students thus get world-class training, but in a very narrow slice of
    material. The major advance in the next 2-3 decades will undoubtedly be made
    because of the technical skills such individuals bring to a team of
    physicians, surgeons, therapists, and engineers. It is the synergism of such
    teams that allow them to make such important advances.

    (B.) Medical School- Many graduates of biomed engr programs seek admission
    to medical school. These people wish to directly treat patients, and
    spend their entire professional lives working with individual subjects.
    In some sense, this limits the impact of their work to those few who are
    their patients.

    (C.) Industry - A very few people with biomedical engineering degrees are
    directly hired into industrial firms. Most of these hire mechanical,
    electrical, or chemical engineers because of their technical skills and
    background. If they need medical, physiological, anatomical knowledge,
    they hire an MD or a PhD in physiology or anatomy. All the rest of the
    graduates are hired into hospitals or other health care facilities to
    calibrate instruments, certify shock hazards, watch over gas (Oxygen,
    air, water vapor) delivery systems, or other rather menial tasks.

    My advice to you is to:

    (1) identify an engineering program that is nearest to your medical interest
    and to seek to get the highest degree possible in that field.
    (2) Take a biology or anatomy course to provide you with the base vocabulary
    you need to work inthe medical field.
    (3) Find someone in the nation working on bioengineering research that
    really pegs your interest meter and get your graduate training there.
    (4) Let your future unfold from there...My own interests have given me
    opportunities to work with surgeons, therapists, and even dentists.

    For some background reading in biomechanics, I suggest that you read the
    following books:

    (A.) Clinical Mechanics of the Hand, Paul W. Brand, Mosby Press, 1993.
    (B.) Ten Fingers for God, biography of Dr. Brand
    (C.) Biomechanics, Y.C. Fung, Springer-Verlag, 1981.

    Engineering is the application of scientific knowledge and methods to the
    betterment of mankind. What better and more direct way than to work directly
    on the physical bodies of mankind!
    Young Hui Chang
    Graduate Student in Physiology
    Department of Anatomy
    College of Veterinary Medicine
    Cornell University
    Ithaca, NY 14853-6401
    Phone: 607-253-3551
    Fax: 607-253-3541

    Congratulations on your graduating, i also just graduated from my master's
    program recently. i, too, was interested in biomedical engineering and
    medicine out of high school. i came to cornell in 1989 to do my b.s. in
    mechanical engineering (i was also pre-med). i was initially interested in
    going to medical school and/or working on prosthetic design (artificial
    limbs, etc.). then i got interested in comparative biomechanics which is a
    slightly different variation from biomedical engineering. i have since
    finished my m.s. in physiology (big field that deals with the study of the
    physical processes in organisms). aside from prosthetics, etc. you'll
    probably hear about from other responses, i deal with how nature uses
    biomechanics to solve many problems. basically, i use my skills as a
    mechanical engineer to study animals. i have so far worked on studying how
    vampire bats jump into flight, how horses and dogs walk, trot, etc. and most
    recently, i did my master's degree on how gibbons (small furry apes) use
    their arms to swing like we walk and run. it may sound like none of these
    projects have anything in common, but they do. i find it interesting to
    study "universal" mechanisms that exist in awide range of different types of
    animals. for example, did you know that crabs can gallop like a horse?
    except they do it sideways and with 8 legs
    instead of four! also, cockroaches (6 legs) can run on their hind legs at
    their fastest speeds (speeds which would be analogous to a six foot man
    running over 200 miles per hour!--you do the conversion to kph!). anyway,
    these are the types of things that a comparative physiologist or
    biomechanist does. it is a relatively new field and is the most exciting to
    me. for more info. check out the biomechanics lab web page for the
    university of california - berkeley (sorry i don't know the http site off
    Kenneth R. St. John, Assistant Professor
    Orthopaedic Research and Biomaterials
    University of Mississippi Medical Center
    2500 North State Street
    Jackson, MS 39216-4505
    Voice: (601) 984-6199
    Fax: (601) 984-6087
    Alt. Fax: (601) 984-6014
    Alt. Fax: (601) 984-5151

    The term biomedical engineer runs the gamut from the men who maintain the
    equipment and check for appropriate grounding of electronics in hospitals
    (also called clinical engineers) to researchers in any of the engineering
    disciplines who are applying engineering to biological systems and medical
    applications. The engineering disciplines represented include mechanical,
    materials, chemical, electrical as well as others. When a University offers
    a program leading to a degree in the area, it may be called Biomedical
    Engineering, Biological Engineering, Biomaterials, Bioengineering,
    Biomechanics, as well as others I may not have considered. Clinical
    Engineering may also be encountered, although that will frequently be
    specific to medical electronics. Having been a graduate of one of the first
    programs to be established in the early 1970's (Renssselaer), I was very
    concerned about my future prospects and my parents were even more concerned.
    I received my BS a year before the US Government regulations mandating
    testing of new medical devices went into effect. In my career to date, I
    have worked on the development of novel contraceptive delivery systems,
    electronics for the determination of dental caries, automated production of
    blood products by fractionation of plasma, development of partially
    degradable systems for the repair of torn ligaments of the knee, development
    of new materials for the manufacture of hip prostheses, testing of synthetic
    materials for bone grafts, and testing of polyethylene for property
    degradations due to sterilization, packaging, and storage. Currently, I am a
    faculty member at a Medical Center with appointments in Orthopaedic Surgery
    and Restorative Dentistry. I would say that my areas of research involve
    materials engineering and biocompatibility testing, including the tissue
    responses to biomaterials and the effects of the tissue on the materials.
    Philippe Archambault
    Les services internet a l p h a inc.

    Biomedical engineering is a somewhat vast and vague term. It is supposed
    to be the application of enginerring to life sciences. What this means is
    that you have a lot of people working on a wide variety of fields. To
    name a few, there are:

    people looking at imaging techniques (ultrasounds, scans)
    people looking at biomechanics (movement, forces)
    people working on computer models (of the heart, lungs, muscles)
    people working in rehab (designing equipment)
    people working in hospitals (designing, maintaining lab equipment)
    people looking at materials (bone structure, cell structure)
    Michael Orendurff
    Shriners Hospital
    Portland Unit
    Gait Lab
    Portland, Oregon, USA

    In our hospital, the biomedical engineer fixes broken medical equipment. He
    has a 2 year technical degree and is a expert on keeping our stuff running.
    There are many other fields related to this area, such as biomedical
    engineering, which means DESIGNING medical products from artifical hearts to
    leg braces. This takes a bit more schooling, at least a 4 (usually 5) year
    bachelors degree in engineering, and possible a master's (2 -3 years more)
    or even a doctorate (Ph.D.) (4-6 years past a bachelors). I have a masters
    in biomechanics and work in a Gait Lab analizing how handicapped kids walk.
    I report to a team of surgeons and help answer questions about how to
    address the patient's problems. My degree is more related to anatomy than
    engineering although there is some overlap. Strong math skills are needed,
    and a love of computers/technology 'cause things keep changing and keeping
    up is a drag for people who don't like it. I love my job and the pay is
    good. The health care field is pretty strong right now in terms of
    pay/stability but here in the US, managed care is sweeping through and
    cutting lots of jobs in some medical centers. Still health care should be
    better than most areas for employment in the future. My only other advice
    is to stay lost for a while and don't force a decision. You can always get
    an associated degree (AA - 2 years), work for a while, and when you get
    tired of that go back to school and finish an engineering degree. For me,
    design would be better than repair but who's to say. If you also have an
    interest in biomechaincs (muscle and joint forces and how that interact)
    check out Simon Frasier or UBC. They both have programs in engineering and
    biomechanics or kinesiology (the study of movement).
    Dan India
    Motion Analysis Corp.

    Contact Simon Frazier in Vancouver, and Univ of BC good biomechanics

    I have a bachelors in mechanical engineering and a masters in
    biomedical engineering. Currently, I am working in an R&D company
    developing equipment that can be used to monitor performance when
    playing sport or performing exercises. Previously I worked in the
    states are a research assistant in a back clinic mostly working as an
    ergonomic person. To give you an example, one of the projects I was
    involved with was commissioned by the NYC transit authority. We had
    to figure out why a large % of the motor men where suffering from
    back pain and what can be done to stop it. Most of the jobs available
    are R&D jobs so it is helpful to have at least a masters. If you are
    interested in computers, I suggest getting a bachelors in computers or
    electrical/electronic engineering and then going on to do a masters in
    biomedical engineering. With that kind high-tech background you can work on
    medical imaging or developing different electronic equipment used in
    surgical procedures. This is a big field. I don't suggest getting a first
    degree in biomedical engineering because it is more of an application than a
    profession. A biomedical engineer is an engineer that can communicate with
    a medical doctor to understand their needs. So basically you just have to
    know a little physiology and anatomy and but a lot of engineering.
    Dr. J.E. Vos
    Groningen University
    Department of Medical Physiology
    Bloemsingel 109712 KZ Groningen
    The Netherlands
    Phone : +31 50 3613534
    Fax : +31 50 3633000

    As my own son had more or less the same question, let me reply to yours
    in a similar manner: Why don't you go to a University Library nearby, go to
    the scientific journals section, and have a (even superficial) look at
    recent issues of all journals with in their title any of: Biomedical
    engineering, Biophysics, Biomedical computing, Engineering in medicine,
    Rehabilitation technology, etc. If you are lucky, you'll even find jobs
    being advertised, not yet for yourself, but it might give you an idea of
    what "we" are useful for..By the way, I was trained as an applied physicist,
    and am now in bio-informatics. Physics is good for every subject, I believe.
    Francesco La Palombara

    Biomedical Engineering (BME) is a branch of engineering which aims at
    the application of engineering methods and techniques to the solution of
    medical and biological problems. It is a typical interdisciplinary field and
    requires a deep knowledge of the principles of other, more "traditional"
    branches of engineering, such as electrical, mechanical and chemical
    engineering, as well as a substantial understanding of the way in which
    living systems are made and behave. That is why many university programs in
    BME are offered in collaboration with qualified medical centers and accept
    students with different backgrounds. Due to the interdisciplinariety of BME,
    it is not mandatory for a student who is planning to pursue graduate studies
    to enrol in a BS program in BME. Dozens of graduate programs in BME, which
    cover virtually all aspects of the research field, are available and open to
    applicants coming from a variety of undergraduate studies, ranging from
    medicine to physics and from engineering to the life sciences. BME research
    areas include modeling of physiological systems, bioinstrumentation,
    biomaterials, biomedical imaging, biomedical signal processing, clinical
    engineering, medical informatics, biomechanics, rehabilitation engineering
    and many others. Each of the above areas includes several more specific
    sub-areas, each of which could account (and in some cases DOES account) for
    the existence of large research centers. Entering an efficient hospital,
    you immediately perceive that modern medicine could not do without BME. I
    would therefore encourage anyone who has a strong interest for both
    quantitative and biological subjects to explore this challenging discipline.
    Marvin Sherebrin
    M. H. Sherebrin, Associate Professor
    Dept. of Medical Biophysics
    Univ. of Western Ontario
    London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5C1
    Phone: (519) 679 2111 ext 6549
    Dept. Phone: (519) 661 3053
    Dept. Fax: (519) 661 2123

    Try the Canadian Medical and Biological Engineering Society at They may have some pamphlets on the subject. The
    organization is a Canadian one of biomedical engineers and is affiliated
    with the International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering.
    George Gorton, B.S.
    Director, Gait Analysis Laboratory,
    Shriners Hospital - Springfield Unit
    Springfield, MA 01104

    I graduated with a B.S. in biomedical engineering from Rensselaer
    Polytechnic Institute in 1985. The coursework that I took was predominantly
    the standard engineering curriculum. Calculus, differential equations,
    linear algebra, matrix methods for math courses. Physics (3 semesters),
    chemistry (2 semesters), english (yeah, right!), material, mechanics (2
    thermodynamics, electronics, and so on. All coursework involved high level
    computing skills. This was combined with biology, systems physiology, and
    anatomy to make it "biomedical". The bio type courses were not standard, but
    rather a view of the human system from an engineer's viewpoint. Muscles and
    ligaments became motors, pulleys, and damp pots. The circulatory system was
    looked at in terms of flow properties. The main purpose of biomedical
    engineering is to apply a detailed knowledge of engineering principles to
    solving medical problems. This is important because, typically, physicians
    and engineers speak different languages. The role of the biomedical engineer
    is to be able to understand the questions of the physician, or the medical
    community, and apply engineering principles to
    address those problems. Development and analysis of the efficacy of orthotic
    and prosthetic devices, dental and orthopaedic implants, medical devices
    such as cardiac monitors, IV pumps, imaging systems such as X ray, MRI, CT,
    all can fall under the scope of biomedical engineering. As a biomedical
    engineer, I have been involved in the operation of a gait analysis
    laboratory, looking at the biomechanics of walking patterns in children with
    developmental problems resulting from neuromuscular diseases such as
    cerebral palsy. I do some research, some clinical analysis to help guide
    surgical decisions in these children, and some development of biomechanics
    systems for use in our hospital. I have personally found it to be an
    exciting and rewarding career. By the way, in Canada, the University of
    Waterloo has an excellent program in biomedical engineering or kinesiology
    (very similar, although more specifically aimed at human movement). Drs.
    Aftab Patla, James Frank, and David Winter would be superb resources if you
    can find their email addresses somewhere. I am sure they must subscribe to
    Terry George

    Bioe is VERY diverse. just about every engineering is applied to medicine.
    keep in mind that bioengineering is more engineering than biology, some
    people work entirely with instrumentation systems and almost never see
    the medical practice, even with their own products. As a bioe, you will be
    focussed on one of four areas:

    Industrial: design / development / manufacturing (design in this case is
    most often truly redesign)

    Research: purely academic (any project under the sun) or industially
    oriented (how does our product work)

    Clinical: fix it when it's broken, not 'just' a technician, but
    along those lines. Could be with a hospital or firm that supports clinics,
    or part of the tech support department of an industrial producer

    Sales: little or no actual engineering or biology, but you still need the

    My advice: talk to people working in specific areas and bioe disciplines to
    gain a better understanding from them. Take them to lunch, network, talk to
    as many people as you can. Many people go into bioe and find their true
    calling is as a medical provider rather than tech support for medical
    providers, so find out the requirements for med school, and take those as
    electives during your undergrad degree. That way you're ready to go if you
    decide to, and it will really bolster the biology side of your education
    (which I think is weak in most bioe programs). Also, be prepared to make a
    sudden change of
    direction, even within bioe.
    Allison S. Arnold
    Biomedical Engineering Department
    Sensory-Motor Performance Program
    Northwestern University
    Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

    Biomedical engineering is broadly defined as the application of engineering
    to medical problems. It is really hard to say what "a biomedical engineer"
    does, because biomedical engineering is such an interdisciplinary field and
    because people enter the field with a diverse range of backgrounds.
    Basically, if you think about all the different areas of engineering there
    are (mechanical, electrical, chemical, computers, product design, fluid
    dynamics, materials science, robotics, artificial intelligence ...) and all
    the different areas of medicine there are (neuroscience, orthopaedics,
    rehabilitation, cardiology, respiratory physiology, vision, dentistry ...),
    you can imagine the incredible number of combinations that are possible!
    Biomedical engineers work at various levels in industry, government labs,
    and academia.

    If you decide to pursue a career in biomedical engineering, here is some advice:

    1. Get your undergraduate degree in a traditional engineering discipline
    (mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, etc) rather than in a
    "biomedical engineering" department. I think a rigorous engineering
    background is really important at the undergraduate level, and you will
    have greater job flexibility if your degree is in one of the traditional
    disciplines. You can always take elective classes in biology, physiology,
    and pursue research in a lab that does bio-related stuff. (note that this
    is just my opinion; you will probably get different opinions from different

    2. When trying to pick a school or program, you have to look carefully.
    Biomedical engineering often doesn't happen in just one department at a
    school -- you will find biomedical-related stuff in various engineering
    departments, exercise science departments, health and human performance
    departments, etc. Check out the areas of research that faculty are working
    on. Is there a medical school associated with the university? A lot of
    schools don't have formal "biomedical engineering departments", but they do
    have excellent biomedical engineering -- you just have to know where to
    look. In general, different schools will excel in different areas of
    biomedical engineering -- some are really strong in rehabilitation and
    prosthetics, others are strong in biofluid mechanics, others are strong in
    biomaterials... You have to figure out what sounds most interesting to you
    and then find a school that excels in that particular area.
    Hamid Rassoulian
    Senior Bioengineer
    Department of Medical Physics & Medical Engineering
    Southampton General Hospital
    Southampton SO16 6YD
    United Kingdom

    Biomedical Engineering acts as a bridge between the Medical and paramedical
    disciplines and the Physcial Sciences and Engineering. The field is very
    fast and has many branches. You may gain some more insight by contacting
    your local Hospital Department of Medical Physics & Medical Engineering, or
    the Simon Fraser University Department of Kinesiology (they do some related
    Dr. Beth A. Todd
    Assistant Professor
    Engineering Science and Mechanics
    Box 870278
    University of Alabama
    Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0278
    (205) 348-1623

    Biomedical engineering is an exciting and satisfying career. However, the
    opportunities in this specialty have not been as great as in other
    engineering disciplines, but that may change in the coming decades.
    Additionally, working in biomedical engineering means that you need to know
    a lot of stuff, and you usually end up working with MD's. Therefore, to be
    considered as more than a technician in biomedical engineering, you need not
    only an undergraduate education, but a graduate education as well--possibly
    even a Ph.D. I advise undergraduate students to major in one of the
    traditional engineering disciplines.