Focus on Human Health and Well Being
If the physical and chemical laws that govern the biology of living systems are the same as those that govern inanimate objects, isn’t it logical that the quantitative skills engineers bring to the table can substantially add to the biological revolution taking place? For years while ethicists, theologians, human rights groups, and the medical and insurance professions have been debating when life starts, how it should end, or even the quality of life, engineers, biologists, and physicians have been working together to solve some of the most pressing physical needs of society. Researchers in Notre Dame’s College of Engineering focus their bioengineering efforts in the areas of biomechanics, biomaterials, bioinstrumentation, bioinformatics, and bioremediation. Their successes promise to be at the forefront of innovations in medical treatment plans and surgical procedures, the development of chemical and optical sensors for medical applications, and the invention of new drug-delivery systems.
Current Human Health and Well Being Research
Imagine a handheld device that could identify a bacterial contaminant in a food source while it was still in a processing plant, detect apollutant in water at the source in real-time, or isolate a virus or infectious disease in a country with limited medical and diagnostic resources. These are actual scenarios where current lab-on-a-chip technology provides fast and accurate diagnostics when time and information are critical. But even these micro labs cannot process exceedingly small (mass limited) samples effectively. The incorporation of nanofluidic elements into lab-on-a-chip technology as demonstrated by Notre Dame researchers expands this technology and its functionality.
Tanyel Kiziltepe, research assistant professor in the Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics (AD&T) initiative at the University of Notre Dame, and Basar Bilgicer, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, are working to address one of the side effects of Trastuzumab, an antibiody used in breast cancer treatment.
While X-rays and other imaging techniques have long been used to identify broken bones or help locate tumors, new technologies developed at Notre Dame are being used to improve the quality of medical images and provide more accurate diagnoses, radiation dosage assessments, and therapeutic radiation treatments.