Each year, the U.S. Department of Education’s Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program provides fellowship money for graduate students working in areas identified as critical to the advancement of society. GAANN awards are made to specific academic departments or other programs to support graduate fellowships. In the last grant cycle, the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences was among four Stony Brook University departments that received GAANN awards to further graduate student research.
“The purpose of this grant is to provide the graduate program in biomedical engineering additional tools to recruit and retain American nationals, particularly those from groups traditionally underrepresented in biomedical engineering,” said David Rubenstein, associate professor and associate dean for Academic and Student Affairs for the Graduate School.
Rubenstein said the funds will help create an integrated teaching, research and mentoring environment to nurture student growth to take on leadership roles in academia, the private sector, and government agencies, among other professions.
“To accomplish this, we’ll draw on the existing research and teaching strengths in biomedical engineering and develop a robust scholarly community with the goal of guiding students to a successful completion of their doctoral studies,” he said, adding that biomedical engineering and the bioscience industry have been among the fastest growing engineering fields over the past decade.
Rubenstein also said that due to this accelerated growth, there is a significant need to train highly qualified students to enter the workforce and to provide them with the foundation to address important societal questions.
“This is especially relevant as we move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “It will necessitate the development of new diagnostic methods, therapeutic intervention strategies and mitigation techniques.”
The Department of Biomedical Engineering has research expertise in a wide range of fields, and a common thread that runs through each of those areas is the desire to translate scientific findings into medical practice.
“As an example, new therapeutic targets to slow, and possibly correct, cardiovascular disease progression can be identified with the work that our GAANN fellows will accomplish,” said Rubenstein. “Other fellows will be able to provide a better understanding of neurological disease progression, using our advanced bioimaging techniques. Some fellows will develop more effective and quicker diagnostic tools. The improvement of human health is an underlying principle of Biomedical Engineering.”
— Robert Emproto
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