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Northeastern creates new bioengineering department

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  January 9, 2014 11:36 AM

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Northeastern University is creating a new bioengineering department, campus officials announced.

The news comes less than a month after the university received final approval from city officials to build a new $225 million research building dedicated to science and engineering studies, fields that Boston-area higher education institutions have made major investments in recently.

The new department will be created within the university’s College of Engineering.

“The department will present exciting new research and learning opportunities across other colleges and disciplines for students and faculty and will leverage the healthcare and biotechnology industries’ rapid growth,” the university said in a statement.

The department will develop new bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and new research programs in bioengineering and will incorporate an existing doctoral program in the field. The department will also offer co-op program opportunities.

“It will build upon the innovative research already underway by Northeastern faculty and students across disciplines in areas such as tissue engineering, biodevices, biomechanics, and nanotechnology in medicine and the environment,” the university said.

“These projects include developing carbon nanotubes that could yield transformative breakthroughs in drug delivery; bio-bandages that monitor bacterial growth or that help damaged ligaments heal faster; sheets of cells folded like origami to form a working kidney; and new materials that—like a leaf in the sun—automatically sense and adapt to changes in the environment,” the statement added.

College of Engineering Dean Nadine Aubry said the department will also aim to collaborate with the large biotech industry in the Boston-area.

“The new department is poised to flourish as an interdisciplinary and collaborative environment for our students, our researchers, and our external partners in the bio-engineering domain,” Aubry said in a statement.

Over the past seven years, the university has recruited 387 tenured and tenure-track faculty, and its annual research funding has more than doubled, campus officials have said. Northeastern plans to recruit another 300 faculty over the next five years.

Most of those impending hires will work in the new science and engineering facility, slated to open in the fall of 2016, and will research the fields of health, security, and sustainability.

The university said it will search for a bioengineering department chair during the coming spring semester. In the meantime, professor Lee Makowski will serve as interim chair.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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