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Biomedical Engineering

Graduate Program Facilities

The Department of Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt is unique among biomedical engineering programs in its immediate proximity to the world class Vanderbilt Medical Center, located on our compact campus.  Our School of Medicine is among the top ten in funding from the National Institutes of Health and includes a National Cancer Institute-recognized Comprehensive Cancer Center, a major children's hospital and a Level I trauma center.  This proximity and the strong relationships among faculty across multiple schools stimulate high impact research and provide unique educational and research and opportunities for students.

The administrative center of BME is centrally located in the Stevenson Center, with many BME laboratories occupying the eighth and ninth floors of Building 5.  When possible, laboratories are located near key collaborators.  This collaborative environment encourages BME graduate students work in research laboratories across campus, including in other disciplines, such as Living State Physics, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, Cell Biology, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Pulmonary Medicine, Ophthalmology, Orthopaedics, and Cardiology. Laboratories under direct supervision of BME faculty are described below.


Biomedical Photonics Laboratories

The Biomedical Photonics laboratories are focused on the applications of light in medicine and biology.  Our Laboratories recently moved to a newly renovated state-of-the-art facility, formerly known as the W.M. Keck Free Electron Laser (FEL) Center. This facility is located across the Biomedical Engineering Department as well as other Science and Engineering buildings and within 300 yrds of the Vanderbilt Medical Center. After the FEL program was ended the laboratory facilities underwent a $1 million renovation (completed in August

2010) which resulted in over 5,000 square foot of state-of-the-art Biomedical Photonics Laboratory space. Set up in part as core labs and in part as thematic research labs, this new facility includes laboratories for clinical spectroscopy/diagnostics, Raman spectroscopy, optical imaging, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), neurophotonics, high power lasers as well as core support facilities that include bioluminescence imaging, spectrophotometry, image analysis/processing, microscopy, small animal surgery and fully equipped labs for cell / tissue culture, histology and an electronics / machine shop. Finally, the facilities include a state-of-the-art optics teaching lab to provide our undergraduate and graduate student with hands-on training in biomedical photonics. All laboratories are equipped with black-out curtains and each lab is partitioned into independent sections each with dedicated lighting and air handling systems.


Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science (Web Site)

The Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science (VUIIS) is a University-wide interdisciplinary initiative that unites scientists whose interests span the spectrum of imaging research, from the underlying physics of imaging techniques to the application of imaging tools to address problems such as understanding brain function. The VUIIS has a core program of research related to developing new imaging technology based on advances in physics, engineering, and computer science. In addition to high-field MRI and MR spectroscopy in human subjects, the VUIIS offers state-of-the-art options for small animal imaging in all modalities. Vanderbilt completed a four-floor, state-of-the-art facility adjacent to Medical Center North to house the VUIIS in 2006. The $28 million project ($21 million for construction) provides a
41,000-square-foot facility to integrate current activities in imaging research and provide research space for 40 faculty members, 36 staff and more than 60 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in biomedical science, engineering, and physics. VUIIS investigators are supported by grants from the NIH, NSF, DOD, DOE, industry and foundations, as well as Vanderbilt University.

Further details on instruments and capabilities can be found at

The Biomaterials Laboratory (SC 5918, 5922, 5924)

The Biomaterials laboratory resides in approximately 2,000 ft2 of contiguous lab space consisting of 3 internally connect labs setup for chemical synthesis, characterization, biological applications/microscopy.  The first lab is a dedicated synthesis suite that houses three fume hoods, a rotary evaporator, lyophilizer, peptide synthesizer, spin coater, NABOND nano electrospinning apparatus, isotemperature vacuum oven, isotemperature lab oven, heat/stir reaction plates with temperature controllers, and all of the necessary glassware and other requirements for organic and polymer synthesis and purification.  The second (internally connected lab) is the characterization suite and houses a PCR machine, fluorescence plate reader capable of measuring fluorescence and absorbance, a differential scanning calorimeter, a UV-vis spectrophotometer, a Waters reversed phase high pressure liquid chromatography system equipped with a UV-vis detector and capable of analytical and prep scale operation, a Shimadzu gel permeation chromatography device equipped with a computer-controlled autosampler, a UV-vis spectrophotometer (Shimadzu SPD-10A), a refractive index detector (RID-10A), and a multi-angle light scattering detector (Wyatt Treos) that allows determination of polymer absolute molecular weight.  The third (also internally connected) lab consists of the molecular biology and tissue culture suite and houses 2 sterile tissue culture hoods, 2 cell culture incubators, an autoclave, 4¡C, 20¡C, -86¡C and liquid nitrogen freezers, a full array of gel electrophoresis equipment, and a microscopy area with a Nikon AZ100 macroscope and a Nikon Eclipse Ti inverted fluorescence microscope with Nikon DS-QiMc black and white camera, Nikon Digital Sight DS-Fi1 color camera, and Nikon Elements Advanced Research image analyzing computer software.  Several centrifuges and other standard laboratory tools (i.e. water baths, mass balances, and vortexes) and bench space are also available.  Other materials characterization capabilities (i.e. Dynamic Light Scattering, Zeta potential, electron microscopes, etc.) are available through the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (VINSE) which is co-localized within the Stevenson Center Complex.


Laboratories for Innovative Engineering in Surgery

Surgical Navigation Apparatus Research Lab (SNARL) (SC 5902, SC 5906 2150 sqft)  and Biomedical Modeling Laboratory (BML)  ( SC 5912, SC 5912A, 5912AA 1600 sqft).  These adjoining labs have the space and equipment for the design, construction and validation of devices and software for the guidance of therapy including surgery, ablative techniques, and the delivery of drugs directly to the sites of interest.  We have mechanical, optical and magnetic localizers as well as devices for intrasurgical data acquisition and soft-tissue mechanical property testing.  Our software consists of command and control of the guidance systems, innovative visualization of surgical targets, margins and healthy structures, and enhancement of planning and delivery with computational models.  We have an extensive computational infrastructure to leverage towards the development of innovative medical image registration algorithms, enhanced diagnostics, simulation, and model-based analysis.   Our final laboratory is the operating room both at Vanderbilt and with other collaborators.  Our systems have to be accurate, robust, and valid but their application to improving patient care is immediate.