Volume 76
Number 3

The Romance of the West

Home Away from Home

Burden of Proof

The Moviegoer

CASE Editor’s Forum

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Emory University

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Emory College enrolled approximately 1,240 students this fall from every part of the United States and twenty-eight other nations. International student applications and enrollment continued a strong upward trend with a twenty-six percent increase in international applications this year, on top of last year’s forty percent increase.

Asian American
African American
Total minority and international enrollment
Average SAT
Median SAT
Average GPA (unweighted)
National Merit Scholarship winners

It Does a Body Good

Joint Ph.D. from Emory and Georgia Tech takes
a new approach to biomedical engineering

EMORY UNIVERSITY AND GEORGIA TECH joined forces this fall with the inauguration of a joint Ph.D. program in biomedical engineering. The aim of the new program, which enrolled its first nine students in August, is to educate a “new breed” of biomedical engineers, says Ajit P. Yoganathan, associate chair.

“Currently this field is dominated by engineers who have learned biology on the side,” he says. “The motivation behind our program is our belief that this field should be driven by the biological sciences–that engineering is really just an application or a method for solving problems in the biological sciences.”

With that motivation in mind, the program’s faculty has pulled together a curriculum that integrates biology “from day one,” Yoganathan says. Another distinguishing characteristic is that the program recruits equal numbers of students with undergraduate degrees in life sciences and engineering–the goal being that students learn from one another as well as from the faculty. Most other biomedical engineering degree programs won’t consider candidates with a background in biology or chemistry, says Yoganathan, for fear that the students won’t be up to the quantitatively rigorous coursework required for a Ph.D. in engineering.

“We believe differently. We believe that you recruit bright students, and they can learn quantitative and analytical problem solving,” he says.

Five years from now, the program’s first graduates will be able to devise technological solutions to real-world medical problems that they understand down to the cellular level.

Tiffany L. Johnson and Jamie M. Chilton, two students who entered the program this fall (eight of the nine students in the inaugural class are women), say the program’s broad perspective was its greatest attraction.

Johnson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at the University of Virginia this spring, intends to concentrate her doctoral work on tissue engineering.

Chilton holds a degree in biochemistry from Agnes Scott College and is interested in genetic or neuroengineering. She has previously contributed to a DNA cloning research project at Emory.

“I wanted broad exposure to the full field,” says Johnson. “This was the only program that gave me the opportunity to be at a medical school too. Engineers spend all our time with beams and particles, and it’s good to be around doctors and people who understand the medical side.”

Emory’s School of Medicine and the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech jointly created the Department of Biomedical Engineering in 1997 to facilitate the flow of research between the two institutions. To chair the biomedical engineering department, the institutions recruited Don P. Giddens from his deanship at the Johns Hopkins School of Engineering. The department currently has ten faculty members, and Giddens intends to recruit an additional seventeen full-time faculty over the next five to six years.

The influx of new faculty with biomedical expertise and students with a quantitative bent will have a far-reaching effect on the quality of graduate-level academics at Emory, says Giddens.

“Most certainly the other life sciences at Emory will benefit, because they’ll be able to attract graduate students who want to dabble in the courses offered through the biomedical program,” he says. “And [Emory’s other graduate life sciences programs] will be able to recruit the kind of faculty who want to work with colleagues with quantitative expertise.”

Both universities will confer doctoral degrees to graduates of the program. Graduate students may choose one of five concentrations: cardiovascular mechanics and biology, cellular and tissue engineering, neurosciences and neuroengineering, biomedical imaging, and biomedical modeling and computing. Research goals range from seeking new ways to prevent heart disease, to creating biologically based replacement parts for the human body or finding better ways to deliver pharmaceuticals to specific areas of the body. “All aspects of this field fascinate me,” says Chilton. “I just want to do something great. Anything I can do to help people is my goal.”—Sharla A. Stewart



© 2000 Emory University