Research & Innovation

Stevens Creates New Departments to Focus on Biomedical Engineering and Drug Development

A woman in a clean suit views a sample under a microscope

The need for cutting edge medicine and healthcare is growing rapidly, particularly in areas related to biomedical engineering and drug development.

In order to spur innovation and train experts to serve in these cutting-edge fields, Stevens Institute of Technology reorganized its Department of Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

The department, housed in Stevens’ Charles V. Schaefer Jr. School of Engineering and Science, split in two as of January 1. The new departments, also housed in the School of Engineering and Science, are the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

"It will become the stimulating engine for more exciting research and funding opportunities."

That’s the hope of professor Hongjun Wang, who chairs the new Department of Biomedical Engineering. The Department of Biomedical Engineering focuses its research efforts on biomedical engineering and bioengineering for healthcare, medicine and nanotechnology applications. The department offers students technical expertise, command of advanced tools used in clinical practices, and leadership training for multidisciplinary and geographically dispersed teams.

It also has more than a dozen laboratories and state-of-the-art facilities on campus.

"I feel extremely excited about the start of Department of Biomedical Engineering," says Wang. "It will be the home for our students, who will have clear recognition of their discipline from the employers. It will be the home for our faculty, and attract more top-notch scientists to join our community."

Wang’s biggest hope for the department is to be "the hub for connecting faculty from different disciplines working together toward the biomedical-related challenges. I hope it will also become a stimulating engine for more exciting research and funding opportunities, as well."

The Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, chaired by professor and director of the Center for Healthcare Innovation Peter Tolias, focuses its research efforts on chemistry and chemical biology for healthcare and medicine applications like drug delivery. "The newly restructured Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology has core strengths in medicinal and computational chemistry and cancer biology," Tolias explains, citing both the department’s strengths and history. Stevens pioneered the field of chemical biology, establishing the first undergraduate program in the nation in the late 1970s.

The chemistry and chemical biology programs have a history of innovation and excellence in education, research and laboratory instruction. Its curriculum is designed to provide students with interdisciplinary training, theoretical instruction and exposure to experimental methods and state-of-the-art equipment. "We will continue to grow our research and instructional base in these focus areas enabling our students with the opportunity to gain significant knowledge in the understanding of genetic diseases such as cancer, providing research experiences with distinguished faculty, and developing next generation therapeutics," says Tolias.

With this reorganization focusing on each department’s strengths, the hope is that students and faculty will be able to gain greater recognition for their efforts, more focus and attention on their research, better research opportunities and stronger collaboration within the programs—and between the departments.

"The biomedical engineering program was created at Stevens 15 years ago and has been hosted in different departments," says Jean Zu, dean of the School of Engineering and Science. "With the increasing importance of biomedical engineering and drug development, and to reflect the significant activities in biomedical and healthcare research at Stevens, the creation of the new departments will strengthen the branding, identity and development of these research areas."

"Furthermore, it provides a clear message about our programs focus for prospective and current students, as well as potential employers."