For a decade, one of the research strengths at the University of Calgary has been in the field of biomedical engineering. In areas such as neurosurgery, joint repair, and stem cell production, the university has positioned itself as a global leader. A new, forward-thinking plan — channeling cross-faculty research in engineering, medicine, kinesiology, veterinary medicine, science and nursing — provides a carefully-considered strategy to help the university address complex, global health-care research challenges, and opens the door for even broader collaboration.
A plan was set in motion at the University of Calgary on Monday that will guide interdisciplinary research for years to come in the important field of biomedical engineering.
The university announced the launch of the Engineering Solutions for Health: Biomedical Engineering (BME) Research Strategy. President Elizabeth Cannon, Vice-President (Research) Ed McCauley and theme leader Michael Kallos revealed the strategy to a crowd at the Rozsa Centre.
“I am proud that we have a solid direction for biomedical engineering research that represents the vision of our collective biomedical engineering academic research community,” said President Cannon. “This strategy embodies what is best about the University of Calgary — our drive, our passion, and our bold aspirations.”
Biomedical engineering is the application of engineering tools and approaches to advance knowledge and solve problems in animal and human biology, medicine and health care. “This strategy takes on the challenge of improving quality of life through biomedical engineering in an innovative and exciting way,” says McCauley. “The research guided by this strategy will make a difference to average Canadians every day: it will extend lives, promote independence, and provide health-care professionals with more effective tools to do their jobs. We’re excited and inspired by this comprehensive, ambitious strategy.”
Strategy outlines priorities and challenges for BME research in years to come
The strategy outlines how the university will approach biomedical engineering research moving forward. “In 2013 we assembled our BME thought leaders to develop a preliminary strategy,” explained Kallos. “From there, we consulted the campus community — faculty, researchers, and students — who provided fantastic input at town hall meetings, through online surveys, and by reaching out to members of the leadership committee.”
The strategy went through a rigorous draft process, and the result is a comprehensive long-term vision for biomedical engineering at the university. The solutions generated by BME research will have an impact on patients, industry, health-care professionals, government, strategic clinical networks, and the health-care system.
The strategy identifies three priority research themes. “Each priority research theme addresses specific challenges within our field, and is an area where the university possesses significant research capacity,” says Professor Kallos. “The themes are: Integrated Approaches for Prevention and Healthy Aging, Technologies for Improved Diagnostics, and Engineered Novel Therapeutics. We’ve also identified an emerging research theme, focused on using engineering tools and approaches to improve patient flow through the health-care system.”
Leveraging interdisciplinary confederation of scholars will be key to success
The strategy focuses on strengthening and leveraging the interdisciplinary confederation of scholars on campus. “The University of Calgary has a long and successful history of collaborative biomedical engineering research and high-quality training across the institution,” says Kallos. “Biomedical engineering scholars are already working in integrated teams to tackle key research priorities. The additional cross-disciplinary connections that will be built as we execute this strategy will build on this foundation and promote a dynamic and productive research environment, for all kinds of challenges.” Over the last decade, scholars from engineering, medicine, kinesiology, veterinary medicine, science and nursing have worked together, and the new strategy provides a framework for even broader collaboration.
Vice-president McCauley also announced $1 million in funding to support BME researchers executing the strategy. “This investment is designed to support our confederation of scholars as they seek to address the challenges laid out by the research strategy,” he said.
“Our strategic research themes are central to our Eyes High vision,” says President Cannon. “The Engineering Solutions for Health: Biomedical Engineering Research Strategy demonstrates our commitment to achieving our goal, and the passion and drive with which we are pursuing research excellence.”
ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY'S RESEARCH VISION: The University of Calgary is uniquely positioned to find solutions for key global research challenges. The Strategic Research Plan harnesses the university’s exceptional capacity in these areas by focusing on six themes: Energy Innovations for Today and Tomorrow; New Earth-Space Technologies; Infections, Inflammation and Chronic Diseases; Human Dynamics in a Changing World; Engineering Solutions for Health; and Brain and Mental Health. Learn more about how the University of Calgary’s Eyes High vision aligns our research resources for the benefit of communities at home and around the world.