Engineering solutions to health problems

Imagine using technology to address medical challenges that affect the everyday lives of millions of people. As a graduate student in biomedical engineering, you'll have the opportunity to work with engineering tools and techniques that will make a difference in the lives of others.

Biomedical engineering at Dalhousie

Biomedical engineering research at Dalhousie covers a broad range of topics. Researchers within the school are working on advancing new technologies that increase the diagnostic information available to clinicians, treating medical disorders with implanted devices and novel biomaterials, and improving our understanding of the structural and functional properties of tissues and cells.

Interested in working on a particular project? Please contact an associated faculty member to find out more about getting involved.

Biomechanics of Tissues and Tissue Engineering

Tissue biomechanics is the study of the how tissues respond to mechanical stress and how the structure of tissues relates to their physiological function. Tissue engineering involves the creation of artificial, lab-grown tissues that have desirable properties. Researchers at SBME are heavily involved in both of these activities, which combine mechanical testing and measurement with biochemistry and cell biology.

Have a look at what our researchers are up to:

John Frampton- Self-Assembly and Microfabrication of Soft Tissue Constructs
Paul Gratzer- Tissue Scaffolds for Encouraging Regrowth of Skin

Brendan Leung – Tissue engineered microbe-mammalian co-culture platforms and tumour models
Laurent Kreplak- Mechanical Properties of Protein Assemblies, Cells and Tissues
Michael Lee- Mechanical Properties of Natural Tissues and Mechanical Implants
Sam Veres- Development of Strength and Toughness in Biomaterials
Sarah Wells- Remodelling of Tissues in Response to Mechanical Stimuli



Bioinstrumentation, Medical Devices and Sensors

Bioinstrumentation, biosensing and medical device development are important subfields within biomedical engineering, concerned with the design of devices intended to provide diagnostic or therapeutic benefits to patients. Within the School of Biomedical Engineering, there are a number of efforts aimed at the development, improvement and commercialization of biomedical devices. These include implanted hearing aids, tests for respiratory diseases, automated blood cell counting devices, drug delivery systems and medical imaging systems.  

Students working on projects involving medical device development may be eligible for funding under the CREATE BioMedic Program.

Have a look at what our researchers are up to:

Rob Adamson- Tools for Ultrasound Imaging and Powering of Medical Devices
Jeremy Brown- Designs and Fabrication of High-Frequency Ultrasound Transducers
Jason Gu- Robotics Control of Implant Positioning
James Ellsmere- Devices for Improving Endoscopic and Laparoscopic Procedures
Geoffrey Maksym- Mechanical Mesurement of Lung Cells and Microtissues


Human Body Dynamics, Orthopaedic Implants, Ergonomics and Rehabilitation Engineering

The direct measurement of how people move and how their muscles are activated can provide valuable information about musculoskeletal diseases.

The School of Biomedical Engineering hosts the Dynamics of Human Motion laboratory, directed by Dr. Janie Wilson and Dr. Cheryl Kozey, where multifaceted measurements are made of how patients move. These measurements are analyzed with sophisticated 3D kinematic and dynamics models to study the effects of osteoathritis, joint replacement and other diseases and therapies.

Elsewhere in SBME, advances are being made in measuring human body shape, in determining the likelihood of artificial joint failure and on making use of newly available kinematic information to make patient-specific adjustments to surgery.

Have a look at what our researchers are up to:

Janie Astephen- Modeling and Simulating the Biomechanics of Human Gait
Michael Dunbar- Computer-Assisted Surgical Navigation and Improved Diagnostic Imaging
Cheryl Kozey- Neuromuscular Control Patterns during Normal Movement and Impairment
Scott Landry- Lower Limb Biomechanics and Function during Gait and Athletic Movements
William Stanish- Cartilage Repair and Effect of Knee Osteoarthritis

Biomaterial Design, Drug Delivery and Prosthodontics

Biomaterials which serve as cements, filler materials and scaffolds have been an important part of therapeutics in dentistry and orthopaedics for decades.

Scientists at the School of Biomedical Engineering are making important advances towards a next generation of biomaterials that interface more closely with human tissue, encouraging bone growth, delivering drugs and therapeutic agents while providing increased stability, flexibility and safety for patients and clinicians.

One area of particular interest is in dentistry and prosthodontics where a number of SBME scientists are developing new biomaterials and learning how to make better use of traditional materials to improve clinical outcomes.

Have a look at what our researchers are up to:

Daniel Boyd- Glass Ionomer Cement-based Therapies

Mark Filiaggi- Synthesis and Application of Novel Bioceramics

John Frampton- Cell-Biomaterials Interactions and Hydrogel-based Biomaterials

Brendan Leung – Polymeric scaffolds for regenerative endodontic therapy

Richard Price- UV-Curing Dental Epoxies and Dental Implants

Locke Davenport Huyer - Immune cell instructive polymer design


Respiratory Engineering and Anaesthesia

The respiratory system is a complex mechanical gas flow system which requires an engineering approach to understand, particularly when the system malfunctions and causes respiratory disease.

Researchers at the School of Biomedical Engineering are making significant advances in understanding the failure mechanisms behind some respiratory disorders, such as asthma and in the measurement of respiratory function. 

The respiratory system is also an important route for the delivery of anaesthesia drugs, and SBME scientists are actively involved in trying to improve current gas-based anaesthesia technologies to make them safer, more predictable and more effective.

Have a look at what our researchers are up to:

Geoffrey Maksym- Novel Technologies for Measuring Lung Function
Andrew Milne- Anaesthesia Airway Equipment Design and Testing

Cell Signals, Mechanotransduction and Neurophysiology

Biomedical engineering plays an important role in the study of neuro- and electro-physiology, where some of the most cutting edge techniques in optical and electrical engineering are needed to probe the individual cells of the nervous system. SBME scientists are actively engaged in finding out how these cells communicate, process and store information. 

Have a look at what our researchers are up to:

Alan Fine- Analysis of Processing and Storage in the CNS using Advanced Optical Imaging
Andrew French- Physiology of the Sensory Cells known as Mechanoreceptors
Geoffrey Maksym- Mechanical Mesurement of Lung Cells and Microtissues

Medical Imaging and Signal Processing

Modern imaging technologies including CT, MRI and ultrasound have revolutionized the way diseases are diagnosed and treated. A number of scientists in SBME are actively involved in pushing the state-of-the-art in medical imaging, either by creating new imaging systems, developing techniques to make better use of existing system or by integrating imaging technologies into more complex devices. 

Have a look at what our researchers are up to:

Jeremy Brown- Animal and Auditory Imaging using Microfabricated Ultrasound Transducers
Steven Beyea- Novel Diagnostic Imaging Acquisition and Analysis Techniques
James Ellsmere- Clinical Navigation via Ultrasonography and Endoluminal MRI
Josh Leon- Sudden Cardiac Death and Electrical/Pharmacological Interventions