Northeastern creates new Department of Bioengineering

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.