Prediction as the Cure

The "engineers" in bioengineering

Vol. 10 No. 3
December 2007/January 2008

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Prediction as the Cure
Gazing into the human body's crystal ball

The "engineers" in bioengineering

“I find it interesting that it’s incredibly difficult to define health without talking about a default position—you know you have health because you’re not sick.”

“There’s significant new ethical ground to be broken here. . . . We’re collecting a large amount of personal information. How do you protect it, who stores it, how do you store it, who has access to it?”

Defending basic science

Looking South Exploring Southern Spaces
The new terrain of Emory's multi-media scholarly journal

The Near Past
Tone and tension in writing about the modern South

Stories from the Frontlines
Or, How to survive co-authoring a book (with your spouse


The Predictive Health Initiative would not have been possible without Georgia Tech, which was involved from the very start of the program. “We have a lot of expertise in areas such as molecular imaging, noninvasive imaging, and whole body imaging,” says Don P. Giddens, dean of Georgia Tech’s college of engineering and Lawrence H. Gellerstedt, Jr. chair in bioengineering. “We also bring a lot of strength in the computing and simulation areas, which can be applied to health systems. Giddens’s own work includes a search for markers that signal the early development of atherosclerotic disease. “We’d like to know what causes atherosclerotic plaque and why it locates where it does in arteries,” Giddens says. “All of this can be pre-symptomatic, and we’d like to find ways to intervene using engineering principals. For example, Giddens studies how fluid dynamics—specifically blood flow—relates to the formation of artery-clogging deposits, which could explain how increasing blood flow through physical activity helps prevent atherosclerosis.

Giddens’s lab maintains a number of active collaborations with colleagues at Emory, and the two schools have gradually increased their interactions over the past two decades through joint biomedical engineering ventures. “Tech’s biomedical engineering department is ranked second in the country, with the highest amount of NIH funding of any biomedical engineering department in the country,” he says. “What we see now is building on that foundation and going into more futuristic areas where the focus is on identifying health, what health really means, and how can we see, in advance, early departures from health.” —S.F.