Hoboken, N.J. – Advancing medical technology and improving healthcare delivery are some of the world’s most urgent and complex societal challenges, especially as healthcare costs continue to rise on a steady upward trajectory.
Stevens Institute of Technology has launched a new Center for Healthcare Innovation (CHI) to seek solutions to these challenges through education, research and partnerships in the fields of biology, engineering and computer science.
“Innovation in healthcare and medicine is a critical societal need in the 21st century, and also a critical area of growth and opportunity for Stevens,” said Stevens President Nariman Farvardin. “By advancing medical technology and improving healthcare delivery through interdisciplinary research and education, the Center for Healthcare Innovation is a key driver of this strategic priority.”
The CHI unites more than 50 Stevens faculty members from diverse academic disciplines, as well as undergraduate and graduate students from every school within the university, to tackle major issues in medical technology and healthcare delivery. The major goals of the CHI are to advance existing activities in healthcare at Stevens and to develop and guide new research and educational initiatives to drive further healthcare innovation.
“Healthcare is a big deal everywhere; the Center for Healthcare Innovation is not only aligned with Stevens’ goals, but the world’s goals,” said Dr. Peter Tolias, director of the CHI, professor in the Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biology and Biomedical Engineering, and an accomplished researcher and scholar in genomics and personalized medicine.
Stevens is currently home to more than a dozen facilities in which students and faculty conduct innovative healthcare research, ranging from bio-robotics to pharmaceutical chemistry. New laboratories focused on bio-imaging, molecular biology, computational modeling and other areas will soon be housed in a dedicated 5,000 square foot space in the Academic Gateway Complex, which is currently being designed for lower campus.
The CHI, as Stevens’ first overarching and university-wide healthcare center, enables Stevens to leverage existing core competencies in healthcare to deliver on its mission. It also performs new types of research only made possible through interdisciplinary collaboration.
“The most impactful healthcare research combines knowledge from many fields within engineering and the sciences,” said Tolias. “By bringing together researchers with complementary skills from different academic units, Stevens can drive medical innovation to improve the quality of life for patients and better manage the business of healthcare.”
One specific emphasis of the CHI is the development of novel medical technologies and services which enable the early diagnosis of disease, improve the effectiveness of therapies and treatments, and generate better patient outcomes. Tissue engineering research will facilitate drug development and enable the personalization of therapeutic regiments for individual patients. Research into biomaterials will improve prosthetic devices, biomedical implants and infection control. The engineering of biosensors and other high-tech medical devices will advance diagnostics and treatment for an array of medical problems.
From developing consumer health apps to conducting healthcare economics research to increasing the security of medical records, the CHI also pursues the advancement of systems tools to analyze, visualize and model complex healthcare data to better predict medical outcomes, improve operational efficiencies in healthcare delivery, and reduce the costs of healthcare.
“In order to address the unmet needs of healthcare, traditional approaches will be greatly augmented by the input of science and engineering,” said Tolias. “Every day, we are discovering new things that we previously had no idea about. There is a lot more to be learned through research and development that will ultimately help attack the healthcare issues in this country and across the globe.”
From its most high-potential research ideas, the CHI will generate intellectual property portfolios. It will pursue patenting and commercialization of new medical technologies which have direct clinical application. Entrepreneurship is a core element of the educational and research experience at Stevens, and the university has a notable track record of bringing to market technologies and launching healthcare companies based on university research, most recently with Versor, a startup founded by students commercializing a diagnostic device which reduces radiation exposure to spinal surgery patients.
“We will be developing research-driven solutions that the healthcare industry wants; solutions that can have clinical and commercial impact,” said Tolias.
Stevens undergraduate and graduate students are integrally involved in all activities of the CHI. Through 30 undergraduate healthcare scholarships and five graduate healthcare fellowships, the CHI supports the participation of top students in cutting-edge research experiences alongside Stevens faculty members, serving to train the next generation of healthcare researchers, innovators and professionals.
“Our extremely high-quality students are Stevens’ most valuable asset, and student-centricity is one of the major strengths of the Center for Healthcare Innovation and Stevens as a whole,” said Tolias.
The CHI also works to strengthen the healthcare workforce by identifying skill gaps and adapting or creating curricula designed to address those gaps.
“We are developing new educational programs at Stevens to meet the ever-changing needs of the healthcare industry,” said Tolias.
Many of the activities of the CHI are conducted in close collaboration with healthcare industry partners, including hospitals, medical schools, and pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, diagnostic, contract research and insurance companies. Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC), a nonprofit teaching and research hospital which has partnered with Stevens on joint biomedical education programs, is one key partner. Another is Georgetown University School of Medicine (GUSM), a leader in clinical medical research.
Tolias said strategic collaborations with outside partners enable the CHI to truly advance medical technology and healthcare delivery to the next level.
“With Stevens’ core competencies in science and engineering, plus the clinical and industry excellence of our formal partners, we feel the Center for Healthcare Innovation is poised to help address the big problems of the sector,” he said.
About Stevens Institute of Technology
Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation University®, is a premier, private research university situated in Hoboken, N.J. overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Founded in 1870, technological innovation has been the hallmark and legacy of Stevens’ education and research programs for more than 140 years. Within the university’s three schools and one college, more than 6,100 undergraduate and graduate students collaborate with more than 350 faculty members in an interdisciplinary, student‐centric, entrepreneurial environment to advance the frontiers of science and leverage technology to confront global challenges. Stevens is home to three national research centers of excellence, as well as joint research programs focused on critical industries such as healthcare, energy, finance, defense and STEM education. The university is the fastest‐rising college in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of the best national universities, and it is consistently ranked among the nation’s elite for return on investment for students, career services programs, and mid‐career salaries of alumni. Stevens is in the midst of a 10‐year strategic plan, The Future. Ours to Create., designed to further extend the Stevens legacy to create a forward‐looking and far‐reaching institution with global impact.