Institute for Medicine and Engineering

The mission of the Institute for Medicine and Engineering (IME) is to stimulate fundamental research at the interface between biomedicine and engineering/physical/computational sciences leading to innovative applications in biomedical research and clinical practice. The IME was created in 1996 by the Schools of Medicine (SOM) and Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) to pursue opportunities for collaborative research. The IME has been successful in obtaining over $80 million in extramural grants, and funded programs. These include a research center in Cell Studies of Pulmonary Artery Hypertension, and a Penn Center for Molecular Discovery.

Membership: The Institute houses 11 core faculty, 6 from the School of Medicine and 5 from SEAS, who were recruited to form the basis for the IME; however, the Institute extends beyond the core group to include 106 members from various schools including School of Medicine, SEAS and Arts and Sciences faculty. The Institute interacts with 24 other Centers or departments.

Multi-disciplinary Research: The IME mission to foster research at the interface of medicine and engineering is met (i) through 8 central investigators who span these disciplines in both schools, (ii) through the core facilities, pilot grant programs, research training, and educational events involving its very wide membership (of 106). The research conducted by central investigators is quite broad, ranging from cell and molecular biology to tissue engineering, biophysics and nanobiology/medicine. Having established a strong basic research foundation the Institute is now expanding translational programs in medicine and engineering.

Strategic Importance: The IME relates directly to 3 major themes of the SOM Research Strategic Plan: Cancer, Neurosciences and Cardiovascular Biology. The University Strategic Plan identifies the link between engineering and medicine as one of the key drivers of success and recommends "fostering advances in engineering, computing, chemistry, mathematics and behavioral sciences that can be applied to life sciences." Because of the multi-disciplinary nature of the Institute, it is well positioned to take advantage of the new NIH roadmap. Because of its unique interface with SEAS, the IME is a strong force in faculty retention by providing unique directions and connections for research among faculty.





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Now showing 1 - 4 of 4
  • Publication
    Elongation and Fluctuations of Semi-flexible Polymers in a Nematic Solvent
    (2004-03-26) Dogic, Z.; Discher, Dennis E; Janmey, Paul; Kamien, Randall; Lubensky, Thomas C.; Discher, Dennis E; Janmey, Paul; Kamien, Randall; Lubensky, Thomas C.; Yodh, Arjun
    We directly visualize single polymers with persistence lengths ranging from lp = 0:05 to 16 µm, dissolved in the nematic phase of rod-like fd virus. Polymers with sufficiently large persistence length undergo a coil-rod transition at the isotropic-nematic transition of the background solvent. We quantitatively analyze the transverse fluctuations of semi-flexible polymers and show that at long wavelengths they are driven by the fluctuating nematic background. We extract both the Odijk deflection length and the elastic constant of the background nematic phase from the data.
  • Publication
    Domain unfolding in neurofilament sidearms: effects of phosphorylation and ATP
    (2002-10-10) Aranda-Espinoza, Helim; Janmey, Paul; Discher, Dennis E; Janmey, Paul; Discher, Dennis E
    Lateral projections of neuro¢laments (NF) called sidearms (SA) a¡ect axon stability and caliber. SA phosphorylation is thought to modulate inter-NF distance and interactions between NF and other subcellular organelles. SA were probed by atomic force microscopy (AFM) and dynamic light scattering (DLS) as a function of phosphorylation and ATP content. DLS shows SA are larger when phosphorylated, and AFM shows four unfoldable domains in SA regardless of phosphorylation state or the presence of ATP. However, the native phosphorylated SA requires three-fold higher force to unfold by AFM than dephosphorylated SA, suggesting a less pliant as well as larger structure when phosphorylated.
  • Publication
    Pore Stability and Dynamics in Polymer Membranes
    (2003-11-15) Hammer, Daniel A; Discher, Dennis E; Hammer, Daniel A; Discher, Dennis E
    Vesicles self-assembled from amphiphilic diblock copolymers exhibit a wide diversity of behavior upon poration, due to competitions between edge, surface and bending energies, while viscous dissipation mechanisms determine the time scales. The copolymers are essentially chemically identical, only varying in chain length (related to the membrane thickness d). For small d, we find large unstable pores and the resulting membrane fragments reassemble into vesicles within minutes. For large d, however, submicron pores form and are extremely long-lived. The results show that pore behavior depends strongly on d, suggesting that the relevant energies depend on d and pore size r in a more complexmanner than what is generally assumed. Further control over these systems would make them useful for numerous applications.
  • Publication
    Electromechanical Limits of Polymersomes
    (2001-11-12) Aranda-Espinoza, Helim; Bermudez, Harry; Discher, Dennis E; Discher, Dennis E
    Self-assembled membranes of amphiphilic diblock copolymers enable comparisons of cohesiveness with lipid membranes over the range of hydrophobic thicknesses d = 3-15 nm. At zero mechanical tension the breakdown potential Vc for polymersomes with d = 15 nm is 9 V, compared to 1 V for liposomes with d = 3 nm. Nonetheless, electromechanical stresses at breakdown universally exhibit a V2 c dependence, and membrane capacitance shows the expected strong d dependence, conforming to simple thermodynamic models. The viscous nature of the diblock membranes is apparent in the protracted postporation dynamics.