Emory Report

April 12, 1999

 Volume 51, No. 27

Emory, Tech scientists team up to teach MiniMed course

Emory and Georgia Tech have teamed up for "Emory MiniMedical School 103: Biomedical Science and Engineering," a new program that focuses on how biomedical engineering is dramatically revolutionizing health care. The mini course will be held from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday evenings, April 27, May 4 and May 11 at the WHSCAB auditorium. Speakers include Georgia Biomedical Partnership board member Robert Nerem, director of the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, who helped design the course, and Emory MiniMedical School's own Randy Martin, Emory professor of medicine and chief medical consultant for WSB-TV.

Biomedical engineering--looking at medical problems from an engineering point of view--is one of the most promising areas of modern medicine and offers equal, if not greater, promise in terms of economic development for Georgia. That's why the School of Medicine and Georgia Tech's College of Engineering recently created a joint Department of Biomedical Engineering. And that's why the two institutions are developing a joint biotechnology center, a start-up business incubator to nurture promising technologies, on the new Emory West campus. "Biomedical Science and Engineering" promises to be an entertaining and informative glimpse into the present and future of the field.

The $40 tuition ($32 for Emory or Georgia Tech alumni and staff) includes parking, refreshments, handouts, and a "diploma" and T-shirt on graduation. It is not necessary to have attended any of the other Emory MiniMedical School programs (although attending any makes class participants eligible for discounts for any others). No science, medical or engineering background is needed.

On April 27 Don Giddens, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, joins Martin to set the stage for this special course. Giddens will provide an overview of biomedical engineering: what it is, how it's changing health care right now and the enormous impact it will have on the state's economy. He'll also speak briefly on the various Emory/Georgia Tech initiatives in the field.

The first class focuses on the heart. Ajit Yoganathan, associate chair of biomedical engineering, will discuss the advances in artificial heart values to treat heart disease, one of the most established areas in biomedical engineering, and Tech's Bill Ditto will discuss advances in the application of chaos theory and high-speed imaging for the characterization and treatment of heart disease.

On May 4 "Biomedical Science and Engineering" turns to the brain. Emory psychiatrist and biomedical engineer Gregory Berns will talk about how advances in brain imaging allows physicians and researchers to literally see brain activity related to behavior and thought. Georgia Tech cognition expert Anderson Smith will talk about how memory changes with normal human aging and how neuroscience and cognitive science now work together to understand brain and behavior relationships.

Nerem will take the helm May 11 and lead participants on a fascinating journey of tissue engineering, where they'll see how living cells and other natural biological materials are being used to repair or replace body parts--artificial skin, heart valves, bone and cartilage, and substitutes for blood and blood vessels. Tech's Robert Guldberg, an expert in orthopaedic biomechanics, will discuss his work in growing new bone and lengthening limbs in adults or after disease or trauma, and Emory vascular surgeon and chemical engineer Elliot Chaikof will describe his work in constructing artificial organs using synthetic materials derived from designs established by nature.

For more information on "Emory MiniMedical School 103: Biomedical Science and Engineering" call 404-727-5686; to register call 404-727-6000.

--Sylvia Wrobel

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