MS in Bioelectronics - New Graduate Degree in Fall 2008

MS in Bioelectronics - New Graduate Degree in Fall 2008

In the fall of 2008, NJIT will offer a new master’s degree in Bioelectronics. In this interview, Atam Dhawan, chairman of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, discusses the new degree.

Dhawan’s own research involves bioelectronics. He invented an optical instrument used by doctors to detect skin cancer. The instrument, called a Nevoscope, uses optical wavelengths to take images of a patient’s skin lesions. Those images help doctors detect skin cancer early -- before it has spread – and to improve the images taken during mammograms. 

Can you define Bioelectronics? It sounds like a combination of biology and sophisticated electronics.

Right. It is a novel combination of high-tech electronics, such as micro-electronics or nano-electronic technology, merged with the biological sciences.

What recent scientific advances have prompted the creation of bioelectronics?

Electrical engineering and electronics can be found everywhere in advanced radiological and medical sciences.  Some examples include ultrasound transducers and detector arrays, which are used to measure cardiac volume; Radio Frequency (RF) coils that are used to take images of the brain; the use of optoelectronics for cellular and molecular imaging; neural prosthetic devices and artificial organs such as silicon retina; and the biolecetronics and biosensors that play a major role in the medical sciences.

What in your view is most exciting about bioelectronics?

There are a number of exciting bioelectronic applications in cellular, molecular and functional imaging used in the medical and life sciences. A combination of neuroscience and bio-nano-electronics has led to the development of neural prosthetic devices. Such devices allow researchers to better study organs and neural systems and develop therapies that help treat neurological disorders such as spinal-cord injuries, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

What kind of research or what kind of devices will students in this program work on?

Students will work on micro and nano-electronic devices and systems used for biological and medical applications. They will learn to develop sensors and interfacing devices used for diagnostic, imaging and therapeutic applications.

What kind of courses will be offered to students?

Some of the classes include Bioelectronics Circuits, Medical Imaging Systems and Microelectronics and Biosensors. We’ll also offer Optoelectronics Systems for Biosensor Applications, Bioelectronics and Biosensor Control Systems. And other classes include Molecular Optoelectronics Imaging, Scanning Probe Microscopy and Health Care Management.

What kind of students, with what kind of backgrounds, might be interested in this degree?

This degree is well-suited for students with backgrounds in electrical, computer or biomedical engineering. Students who’ve studied physics, chemistry or chemical engineering will also do well in this program. Bioelectronics is a crossover field, a highly interdisciplinary area, and as such it will appeal to an array of students with various science and engineering backgrounds.

What kind of jobs will await graduates of this program?

There are a number of jobs in the biomedical industry. Major companies such as GE Medical Systems, Siemens, Phillips and Picker International will hire our students. As will many biomedical devices and instrumentation companies. Our students will also be the ones to work on the next generation of medical devices and systems that are used in hospitals and medical centers for imaging, diagnostic and therapeutic applications.  

Will they one day conduct important research?

The bioelectronics industry is evolving fast and developing new products that are playing a major role in the life sciences. Our graduates, whether they work in industry or in research, will work to quickly develop new devices that will revolutionize biology and medicine and improve the quality of life for many people.  

(By Robert Florida, University Web Services)