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The Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering provides two award programs to sponsor upcoming research projects and educational initiatives. The goal of these programs is to encourage collaboration between previously unconnected partners in research or education across the department. The award program was developed to assist the department in supporting novel research alliances between Joint BME members, so they may generate new ideas and receive funding to acquire preliminary results that are sufficient to propose to either conventional federal research grant programs (i.e. The National Institutes of Health or Department of Defense), or to major national foundations, such as the American Heart Association.

The Research Innovation Pilot Award was developed to support new research projects and collaborations with the goal of increasing research grant submissions from the joint department.

The Educational Innovation Pilot Award was created to seed new (or improve existing) educational initiatives within Joint BME. The award will provide education-specific opportunities that include supporting faculty in their process to apply competitively for education grants, providing support for presenting at conferences, disseminating materials at sister institutions, and developing advancements to enhance cross-campus education opportunities.


written by Kathleen Clardy for Joint BME Communications

The Joint Department is pleased to announce our Pilot Award Winners for 2023:


Research Innovation Pilot Awards

Nitin Sharma, Helen Huang and Xiaoning Jiang received the Research Innovation Pilot Award for their project entitled “Innovative Neuroprosthetics Interfaces and Advanced Data-Driven Control Mechanisms for Balance Control Post Spinal Cord Injury.”

This project will focus on building neuroprosthetic technology that provides postural balance and ambulation to people with spinal cord injuries. Historically, technologies for neuroprosthetics focused on developing the walking function of the prosthesis but did little to alleviate anxiety around maintaining balance and preventing falls in the wearer. The collaboration will combine implanted electrodes with neuroprosthetics to enable fall prevention and provide more versatile and precise-on-demand walking for patients.

Jacque Cole and Victoria Bautch also received a Research Innovation Pilot Award for their research on “Investigating Inflammatory-Stimulated Changes in the Post-Stroke Bone Microenvironment.”

Their project looks to develop vascularized bone microdevices in order to better understand bone loss that occurs in ischemic stroke patients. Currently, the cause of this stroke-related bone loss is linked to prolonged bed rest during recovery. However, circulating inflammatory factors are also elevated from days to months following a stroke and these same factors are known to contribute to bone loss or damage in other conditions, such as arthritis. Cole and Bautch will examine the mechanisms underlying the inflammatory response in bone cells by simulating a post-stroke bone microenvironment, analyzing the environment through a new microdevice, and understanding new pathways between bone and vascular connections in the hopes that it will better inform clinical decision-making in stroke patients.


Educational Innovation Pilot Award

The Educational Innovation Pilot Award was presented to Amy Adkins and Naji Husseini for their focus on “Enhancing Technical Writing Instruction for BME Students with Online Instructional Modules and Artificial Intelligence.”

Adkins and Husseini have proposed to formalize a technical writing program in Joint BME that is integrated across the core undergraduate curriculum. Many programs or universities address technical writing instruction through specific courses that are provided on a one-time basis and may not always be targeted specifically to biomedical engineering students. The piloted implementation of the program will include online instruction developed by Adkins and Husseini, along with instruction on using AI software as an on-demand feedback tool for students to use as they develop their writing. Through this integrated process, Adkins and Husseini aim to directly support our undergraduate BME students’ mastery and self-confidence in technical writing.


Thank you to all of the recipients of our award program for your outstanding work and continued dedication to our students and the biomedical discipline.

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