The Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at Wayne State University has a rich history of groundbreaking research and a commitment to improving the quality of human life for over eight decades. Today, its influence extends beyond traditional boundaries, forging strong connections with the automotive industry, sports, ballistics, and blast research — all with a singular focus on saving lives.
With a treasure trove of experience, particularly in the field of injury biomechanics and tissue engineering, the BME department has consistently pushed the boundaries of knowledge by revolutionising the understanding and management of traumatic brain injuries. Just ask Dr. Zhifeng Kou, an associate professor in biomedical engineering (medical imaging) at Wayne State who has been studying traumatic brain injury since his PhD days.
“Medical imaging makes fundamental changes in brain injury diagnosis and management plan,” Dr. Kou says. “For example, intracranial haemorrhages, or bleeding, in the skull is an important sign of brain injury diagnosis. The detection is complicated. Our department Vice Chair, Dr. Mark Haacke, a pioneer in medical imaging research and clinical translation, invented susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI).”
SWI has revolutionised brain injury diagnosis with six-fold greater sensitivity than traditional methods, making it the gold standard of brain injury diagnosis all over the world. In fact, all major MRI manufacturers like GE, Siemens, and Phillips now incorporate SWI technology to scan brain injury patients, thanks to the contributions of BME researchers.
What sets Wayne State apart is not just its pioneering research but the quality of education it provides. The education here is unmatched, taught by world-class faculty with unparalleled experience and knowledge. Among them is an emeritus professor who is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and several faculty members are distinguished as fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.
It offers a rigorous online programme — Master of Science in biomedical engineering: injury biomechanics (online) — covering foundational work in biomedical instrumentation and automotive safety to modern advances in injury biomechanics and tissue engineering. The best part? Students enrolling in the online programme can benefit from a lower tuition rate.
The programme covers injuries and their impact, and uses this information to help save lives and reduce short and long-term human costs. To that end, the programme offers a comprehensive curriculum. The core programme focuses on physiology and impact biomechanics, supplemented by elective courses that broaden the educational experience. This dynamic blend of core and elective coursework prepares students to excel in the multifaceted field of injury biomechanics.
Along the way, students gain valuable skills, such as applying mathematics, science, and engineering concepts to identify, formulate, and solve problems in biology and medicine. They learn to design and conduct scientific experiments and analyse and interpret the resulting data. Plus, they get to collaborate with physicians and clients to apply their knowledge of injury mechanisms to develop solutions.
Upon completion of the programme, students are ready for various roles in the field of injury biomechanics, including forensic biomechanist, product safety engineer, injury prevention specialist, and accident reconstructionist. It equips students to become experts in understanding how and why injuries occur and how to prevent them.
The programme also offers a unique opportunity for students to access cutting-edge knowledge in this field. By collaborating with faculty advisors and peers, students at Wayne State become a part of the driving force behind innovative discoveries, contributing to the betterment of society.
“Their pioneering work, the Wayne State Tolerance Curve, heavily influenced the current national standard Head Injury Criterion (HIC) used in automotive safety design and testing,” Dr. Kou says. “The BME programme at Wayne State has trained hundreds of engineers and research scientists in impact biomechanics, many of whom have become leaders in their institutions, enhancing product safety and patient care. They applied their knowledge and skills learned from Wayne State into their job practice every day to improve people’s lives.”
In terms of clinical practice, advancements in biomechanics aid physicians in understanding injury mechanisms, extent, and location of injury. It further helps them better manage patients for proper treatment plans. “Every year, there are students who further their career trajectory at medical school and become doctors,” Dr. Kou says. “The injury biomechanics knowledge they learned here greatly helped them to become better-prepared physicians, especially in orthopaedic surgery, neurosurgery, neurology and radiology.”
For those who prefer an in-person educational experience, the Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering offers five specialised pathways: biomechanics of injury, biomedical instrumentation, biomedical imaging, biomaterials and tissue engineering, and computational and systems biology. This programme caters to part-time and full-time students and provides research or non-research degree options. Click here to learn more about the programme.