Jansen, Giorgio tell Board of Trust of ambitious goals of interdisciplinary research

An ambitious goal of restoring human function to people facing life in a wheelchair through a marriage of neurosurgery, bioengineering and neurosciences was presented to Vanderbilt Board of Trust members during their academic programs and student life committee meeting Nov. 19.

“We want to be able to restore function to someone in a wheelchair in 10 years. We have the technology. We can do it,” said E. Duco Jansen, professor of biomedical engineering.

Jansen is a member of one of Vanderbilt’s interdisciplinary research teams that tap faculty expertise across a number of academic disciplines to generate ideas for solutions to complex problems.

How the university can leverage its advantages to become a leader in the emerging field of interdisciplinary study was among the topics discussed at the committee meeting which also included presentations on the Faculty Senate and Vanderbilt Student Government.

Todd Giorgio, chair of biomedical engineering, cited Rice and Baylor universities’ partnership to construct a building to bring the schools’ researchers together as an example of higher education’s increasing interest in interdisciplinary studies.

Giorgio said many peer institutions lack the close proximity that make interdisciplinary collaborations easier and that Vanderbilt, because of its enthusiastic, talented faculty and compact campus, has “a real advantage and opportunity to be No. 1 at what we do.”