The Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering offers graduate students a wide spectrum of research areas on which to focus their doctoral research. These areas include biomedical microdevices, medical imaging, pharmacoengineering, regenerative medicine, and rehabilitation engineering. With our faculty among the world’s experts in these subjects, and with numerous complementary research projects active within and across research areas, graduate students have ample opportunity to engage in the research that piques their interests and best supports their professional goals.
Interdisciplinary collaboration, the cornerstone of the biomedical engineering discipline, is well supported in our Joint Department and permeates graduate student training. For example, BME graduate students work hand-in-hand with clinical faculty to identify significant needs that are not met by existing technologies, to establish experimental methods for developing new approaches, to recruit study participants, and to interpret research outcomes in the context of translation to clinical practice. Similarly, BME graduate students engage with basic science investigators to bridge knowledge gaps and enlighten thinking. Further, BME graduate students participate in research together with industry partners spanning established corporations to early-stage start-up companies. Such industry partnerships bring academic research closer to commercialization and offer students valuable perspective on how the market drives biomedical technology development. This collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to training powerfully, yet elegantly, broadens graduate student exposure to research cultures to prepare students for careers as independent investigators in both academics and industry.
Student Statistics and Funding
After graduation, 82% of our graduate students continue to work in the field of biomedical engineering, with most establishing careers in industry (46%) or academics (39%).
Our graduate students are fully funded through completion of the Ph.D. degree. Funding sources include the National Institutes of Health (NIH) , National Science Foundation (NSF) and U.S. Department of Defense as well as private foundations, industry sponsors, and the state of North Carolina. Many BME graduate students participate in highly specialized NIH-sponsored training programs with tailored curricula that blend input from experts across several disciplines. Moreover, BME students successfully compete for individual training grants from the NIH and NSF, securing for themselves both funding and prestige.
BME graduate students have tremendous flexibility to adjust their graduate student experiences in ways that best suit their personal scientific, professional and personal goals. For example, students may choose to match with a specific research laboratory and adviser in the first semester, or they may opt to rotate through different laboratories during the first year. Students may select a primary research adviser from within or outside the BME department on either the UNC or the NC State campus. Students may select classes from among those offered at UNC, NC State, or through an inter-institutional course exchange program with Duke University. Industry internships that complement students’ dissertation research are possible, as are first-hand teaching experiences. Finally, students may participate in enrichment programs, such as writing support, teaching preparation, and career counseling at both UNC and NC State.