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Acting Globally

Professor Muhammad Zaman is bringing affordable health care to the developing world

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In underdeveloped countries pneumonia can be a swift killer, especially for children. With limited access to diagnostic tools, health care workers are often unable to start treatment until, too often, it’s too late.

This is something transformative for Zambia. This is not just another project.

To promptly diagnose this curable disease, community health workers in Zambia needed a cheaper, more durable pulse oximeter, a small device that clips to the finger and measures blood oxygen, a prime indicator of pneumonia.

Enter Associate Professor Muhammad Zaman (BME), who teamed up with three BU biomedical engineering majors to take on the challenge. One year later, the result is a revolutionary device that doesn’t need batteries, costs less than $30, can survive bicycle commutes over bumpy roads – and could help save a million children a year from dying of pneumonia.

Zaman’s passion for changing the face of global health care doesn’t stop there – he is also developing low-cost devices to detect counterfeit medicines – a major problem in the developing world – and diagnose HIV, and his Lab for Engineering Education and Development is working to create schools of engineering and medicine around the world.

Biomedical Engineering

Degrees Offered

  • Undergraduate
  • Graduate & Post-Graduate
    • Master of Engineering
    • Master of Science
    • Doctor of Philosophy
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  • Dual Degrees
    • Doctor of Medicine/ Doctor of Philosophy
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What Is Biomedical Engineering?

Biomedical engineers apply the concepts of engineering—mathematical modeling, analysis, design—to living systems, improving lives by solving problems in biology and medicine. The field is rapidly expanding to include many exciting research areas:

  • Bioinstrumentation (developing tools for biological research)
  • Biomaterials (creating synthetic materials intended to interact with living systems)
  • Biomechanics (analyzing the mechanics of living organisms)
  • Cell and tissue engineering (repairing or replacing living cells with synthetic ones)
  • Drug delivery (improving the way medications are administered)
  • Medical imaging (creating images of the body using light, sound, radiation, electrodes, etc.)

What Do Biomedical Engineers Do?

A lot. And the list is growing longer every day. Biomedical engineers design surgical robots and artificial organs, make synthetic lubricants for aging joints, improve techniques for DNA sequencing and make MRI machines smaller and more powerful. And new job opportunities for biomedical engineers are constantly emerging—U.S. News & World Report recently named biomedical engineering the country's fastest growing occupation.

Many of our graduates work in the biotechnology industry, in pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Others work in hospitals, medical research facilities and government regulatory agencies. Many of our students go on to medical school and then use their knowledge of technology to improve patient care or conduct clinical research.

Graduate Research Opportunities

Home to one of the world’s first and highest-rated Biomedical Engineering programs, the BME Department in the Boston University College of Engineering attracts high levels of external funding that supports research, innovation and graduate education. State-of-the-art core facilities in biointerface technologies, micro- and nanobioimaging, cell and tissue engineering, and biomedical computing support research aimed at bringing biomedical innovation quickly into use. Our graduate students have the unique opportunity to do, on average, three rotations in various laboratories to find a research home that best fits their interests and goals. All graduate students are paired with faculty mentors. The following are just a few of our numerous research areas:

  • Biomaterials, Biosurfaces, Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
  • Biomedical Optics and Photonics
  • Cellular, Subcellular and Molecular Bioengineering
  • Computational Bioengineering
  • Multi-scale Biomechanics
  • Nanotechnology
  • Neuroengineering
  • Synthetic and Systems Biological Engineering

Where Do Our Alumni Work?

  • GE Healthcare
  • Integra Lifesciences
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Genzyme
  • Merck & Co.

Why Study At BU?

The Biomedical Engineering department at BU is world-renowned and is the epicenter of groundbreaking research in this field. We're supported by superb research facilities, and our location in Boston puts us right next door to some of the nation's best research and teaching hospitals, and provides the environment for creating and enhancing the technologies that improve health care. Undergraduates who wish to take advantage of study abroad programs have the option to further their engineering education in international locations such as Dresden, Germany; Grenoble, France; and Madrid, Spain.

All of our students work closely with faculty—undergraduate students are assigned faculty advisors who provide personal attention and guidance. Our undergraduates complete a Senior Design Project that allows them to work directly with BME faculty in their research labs.

What Does BU Offer?

Visit the Biomedical Engineering website for more information.