Marquette, MCW forming joint biomedical engineering program

Schools to hire 10 faculty members over five years


Marquette University and the Medical College of Wisconsin will form a joint biomedical engineering department in July that will combine elements of Marquette’s engineering curriculum with MCW’s medical and clinical expertise.

Over the next five years, 10 additional faculty members will be hired to teach in the new department. Five will be hired by Marquette and five by MCW.

Marquette University
Marquette University

The program will offer undergraduate and graduate degrees. Students will work in labs at Marquette, MCW and local hospitals and clinics.

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MCW President and CEO Dr. John Raymond said the partnership was an inexpensive way to connect its medical research with strong engineering.

“We need access to quantitative science and engineering,” Raymond said. “Rather than building departments of our own, it makes sense to partner with other institutions in the region. Southeastern Wisconsin Has one of the largest concentration of engineering strength in the country.” 

Raymond stressed that the partnership does not mean MCW has entered into an exclusive relationship with Marquette and the medical college plans to continue collaboration with Milwaukee School of Engineering and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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Students in the undergraduate program will spend most of their time at Marquette and will have opportunities to work in MCW labs, according to a statement released by Marquette University this morning. Graduate students in the program will divide their time between the two schools and work at several clinical locations, such as Froedtert Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the BloodCenter of Wisconsin and the Zablocki VA Medical Center.

“Marquette and MCW have a shared vision for the new biomedical engineering department to become the center for innovation, and an international destination for industry research and development partners to find new and better medical treatments and devices that improve patient care and quality of life,” said Marquette University president Michael Lovell in the statement. “We believe strongly in this department’s ability to further support economic growth in this region, building upon the medical device, imaging and pharmaceutical innovation that already exists in the area.”

MCW-Milwaukee-2016-03-28-StockStudents in the program will conduct research in instrumentation, orthopedics, rehabilitation, neurosystems, neurorehabilitation, cardiovascular and pulmonary fields, genomics, computational biology, bioinformatics, molecular imaging, cell and tissue engineering, drug discovery and technology development.

Undergraduate degrees will be issued from Marquette, and graduate degrees will bear the seals of both institutions.

Marquette and MCW representatives say they also plan to recruit faculty with expertise in nanotechnology and biomedical research at the cellular and molecular levels.

Marquette and MCW will begin a national search in April for a chairperson to lead the new department.

I think our potential is to be global leaders in addressing some of the health care challenges that we have today,” said Kris Ropella, dean of Marquette’s Opus College of Engineering. “Not only in developing new technologies and new therapies, but also perhaps contributing to discussions about bioethics.”

Ropella and Raymond said Wisconsin is fertile ground for biomedical innovations and the new biomedical department will make it easier for both institutions to secure large research grants. Raymond said the region’s manufacturing history will make it easy to make and market medical device inventions.

As the program becomes established and grows, the institutions could build new research centers, Ropella said. One idea already being discussed is the possibility of developing a medical device innovation center.

“We’re redirecting existing resources to create this department,” Raymond said. “This will give us the strength to put in larger grant applications and to expand the undergraduate student bodies and the graduate school offerings. We have a rich talent base in the educational institutions here, and we have one of the world’s strongest manufacturing sectors. If we could get them working together … there’s a lot of value here.”


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