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SUNY Downstate Medical Center

The School of Graduate Studies

Research Tracks

The joint PhD Biomedical Engineering Program currently has the two research tracks listed below. Additional research tracks may be added to the program in the future.

Biomaterials and Polymer Therapeutics

Research in this area focuses on the development of new generation biomaterials and structures. Polytechnic has for long been an international leader in polymer chemistry. In one approach, materials are being designed to stimulate specific cellular responses at the molecular level. Examples are bioresorbable materials that cue specific biological responses to activate genes, guide cell growth and differentiation, and alter extracellular matrix production and organization. The ability to "tailor" polymer structures, analyze the physical properties of new biomaterials, and then process these polymers into various forms allows collaborative intercampus teams to pursue a wide range of applications. These applications include synthesis of materials for tissue engineering, drug delivery, bone screws, and more. Other research focuses on the development of biosensors for rapid detection and analysis of biological markers, ranging from single nucleotide polymorphisms to anthrax spores. Through their collaborations, investigators have developed low molar mass and high molecular weight glycolipids. Results have demonstrated the potential of the new glycolipid analogs to function as effective modulators of the immune response, anticancer agents, and as adjuvants in vaccine formulations. These studies have stimulated researchers to investigate the role of sophorolipids, in particular, in decreasing sepsis related mortality and other inflammatory diseases. Another Polytechnic/Downstate collaborative team has made significant progress in the development and targeted delivery of protease (e.g., calpain) inhibitors to treat muscular dystrophy.

Bioimaging and Neuroengineering

The collaborative approach harnesses Polytechnic's extraordinary strengths in wireless technology (Wireless Internet Center for Advanced Technology ["WICAT"]) for applications in biotelemetry. For example, Downstate neuroscientists are working on federally funded research in neurorobotics, spatial learning, and computational neuroscience including brain modeling. The goals of these biomedical research projects are to advance therapies for spinal cord injury, Alzheimer's disease, and epilepsy, respectively. These projects will benefit greatly from advanced wireless technology, either directly as in the case of neurorobotics and navigational studies, or indirectly through data acquisition from on-line patients suffering from intractable seizures. Studies pioneered at Downstate involving remotely controlled "search and rescue" rats that can navigate rubble heaps, such as those associated with terrorist attacks or natural disasters, have and will continue to benefit from advances in wireless cell phone technology to improve communication with base stations. Bioimaging has historically been a strong suit at Downstate; Dr. Raymond Damadian made the first MRI image in his Downstate campus laboratory. A long-standing collaborative project of Downstate and Polytechnic investigators is in the area of optical tomography, a method of imaging biological tissue using light at near infrared wavelengths. Applications include development of a diagnostic tool for breast tumors, brain lesions, and stroke-associated ischemic brain lesions.