IBBME welcomes two new faculty members

BBME welcomed two new faculty members over the last several months. This growth in expertise continues to compliment the Institute’s commitment to biomedical engineering education and advanced research that tackles our most pressing health-care challenges.

Professor Chris Bouwmeester joined IBBME as a teaching-stream faculty member in September. He will be instructing courses for the undergraduate biomedical engineering minor and the Engineering Science biomedical engineering systems major.

His speciality resides in teaching medical device design and problem solving in a practical environment. For example, in one of his upper-year courses, students are connected with health-care professionals to observe their everyday practice to identify clinical challenges and develop guided solutions for these open-ended problems.

His own research expertise focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease, including minimally-invasive medical devices that help the heart pump blood for heart failure patients.

Professor Naomi Matsuura, an expert in novel materials for improved medical imaging and treatments, joined IBBME in July. Her highly collaborative research bridges both engineering and medicine, and she is joint-appointed between the Department of Materials Science & Engineering, the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering, and cross-appointed with the Department of Medical Imaging in the Faculty of Medicine.

Matsuura’s research focuses on the development of materials that can aid in both the imaging and treatment of cancers. These engineered materials can be injected into the body and remotely tracked by medical imaging technologies, such as ultrasound imaging, computer tomography and positron emission tomography (PET) scans, so as to illuminate cancerous tissues. In addition to making it easier to characterize tumours in medical scans, these materials can also be used to deliver therapies to targeted sites within the body, including to tumors in organs that are difficult to access, such as the brain.

She was recognized for her leading nanotechnology work in 2007, when she was awarded the prestigious John Charles Polanyi Prize, funded by the Ontario government and administered by the Council of Ontario Universities.

Why did you choose U of T?

CB: I chose the U of T because there are fantastic connections between medicine and engineering, and IBBME strives to expose students to real-world clinical problems.

NM: U of T is a top university with incredible facilities and resources. My research area is highly interdisciplinary, so being in physical proximity to so many collaborators from other departments, faculties and hospitals is a bonus. Toronto attracts extraordinarily diverse and talented students, which I believe challenges us all to become more innovative and accomplished researchers.

What do you hope to accomplish in your new role?

CB: I want to grow the capstone biomedical engineering design courses to the point where students can legitimately consider developing their ideas further as a start-up companies.

NM: Through the design of novel agents, my research spans state-of-the-art materials engineering and medical science. Our goal is to use the new, targeted imaging and therapeutic compounds we develop in the lab to enable more precise diagnosis and improved local treatment of diseases.

What are you most excited about?

CB: I am most excited to help engineering students show their creativity by providing solutions to open-ended health-related problems. I am also excited to run courses that offer hands-on experiences that will allow teams of students to learn from their mistakes.

NM: I am thrilled to join to U of T and I hope to help energize and inspire those around me. It is truly an honour to collaborate with such accomplished faculty members and to mentor such wonderful students. I am sure that together we can come up with some wild and amazing ideas to better treat cancers and improve prognoses and outcomes for patients.

These interviews have been condensed and edited.