Jan. 24, 2022

New Department of Biomedical Engineering ‘years in the making’

Multidisciplinary department to call Schulich School of Engineering home
Biomedical engineering researchers in the Kallos Lab. From left: Breanna Borys, Kathryn Grant, Jeff Biernaskie, Michael Kallos. Schulich School of Engineering

A brand-new department at the Schulich School of Engineering will pave the way for new opportunities and discoveries while breaking down traditional silos in this ever-more-interconnected world.

The Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) will build on a very successful multidisciplinary approach, bringing together undergraduate and graduate programming, as well as research and scholarly activities.

“This has been years in the making,” says Schulich Dean Bill Rosehart. “We believe this will be yet another reason for fantastic faculty and students to come to the University of Calgary going forward.”

Interim department head named

Taking the reigns of the new department will be Dr. Michael Kallos, BSc (Eng)’95, PhD’99, who will be the interim department head.

Kallos, a double Schulich alumnus, has held many academic leadership positions and roles, including the interim director of the Centre for Bioengineering Research and Education (CBRE), director of the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program, and lead of the campus-wide Engineering Solutions for Health: Biomedical Engineering research strategy.

Next step in evolution of engineering education at UCalgary

The interconnected world in which we now live has allowed for collaborations and teamwork that previous generations could have only dreamed about. That mindset is a cornerstone for many things happening around the UCalgary campus, and was a driving force behind the creation of the new BME department.

Schulich’s sixth department expands the biomedical engineering graduate program, which provided a successful intersection between medicine, engineering, science, kinesiology, nursing and veterinary medicine in using different disciplines to solve health challenges.

The hope is the new department will build on those achievements, such as tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, the recent development of a blood test for breast cancer and a new approach to stopping or preventing epileptic seizures.

This new department will be an anchor of multi-faculty biomedical engineering activities. Faculty, students and postdocs have been able to enjoy working with researchers from across the campus and those unique relationships and experiences will continue going forward.

- Michael Kallos

Research is key to BME’s success

Kallos is an active researcher with more than 70 published peer-reviewed articles, including a recently published paper on the bioengineering and application of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in regenerative medicine. He calls the paper an example of the type of multi-faculty research that students will see at BME.

“It summarizes the need for industry and academia to take a multidisciplinary approach to overcoming the obstacles through collaboration and the adoption of new technologies, methods and ideas within research and biomanufacturing, and apply the concepts rapidly being discovered in academia to industrial manufacturing infrastructures,” he says.

With BME becoming a department, a number of administrative processes are being consolidated, including finance, human resources and IT systems, and the new structure will enable better co-ordination between undergraduate, graduate and research activities.

“We’ve already accomplished so much with biomedical engineering as a program,” Rosehart says. “We’re confident that this new department will build on that and become the model for collaborative learning at UCalgary for years to come.”