Βιοϊατρική Μηχανική και Βιοτεχνολογία

General information about the field
Biomedical engineering is a discipline that advances knowledge in engineering, biology and medicine, and improves human health through cross-disciplinary activities that integrate engineering techniques and analyses with the biomedical sciences and clinical practice. It includes:

  • The acquisition of new knowledge and understanding of living systems through the innovative and substantive application of experimental and analytical techniques based on the engineering sciences.
  • The development of new devices, algorithms, processes and systems that advance biology and medicine and improve medical practice and health care delivery.


In most aspects of health care, disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment, or rehabilitation, there are problems that require an engineering approach. These may include designing and developing diagnostic imaging systems, developing systems to maintain and enhance life and fight diseases like cancer, designing replacement parts for people, or creating systems to allow the handicapped to use computers for work and communication.

The growing complexity of medical technology has increased the demand for appropriately trained professionals to bridge the gap between clinical medicine and applied medical technology. These personnel must be capable of defining a medical problem in engineering science terms and of finding a solution that satisfies both engineering and medical requirements. Biomedical engineering is usually based on one of the traditional engineering disciplines, such as mechanical or electrical engineering. There has been a great expansion of biomedical engineering in areas such as medical diagnostic imaging, clinical engineering, biomaterials including molecular imaging and drug delivery, and rehabilitation engineering. The scope of the field is enormous: from cardiac monitors to clinical computing, artificial hearts to contact lenses, wheel chairs to artificial tendons, modeling dialysis therapy to modeling the cardiovascular system.

Career opportunities
Biomedical engineers are exposed to many fields of study in engineering, medicine and biology. Due to this broad experience biomedical engineers find employment in hospitals, government bodies, medical equipment industry or academic areas. Specific areas of employment include: design of medical instrumentation and prostheses; development, manufacture and testing of medical products; and the management of technology in the hospital system.

Research areas
1. Diagnostic and therapeutic applications of ultrasound (contact Person: Dr. M. Averkiou)
The research in the area of diagnostic ultrasound imaging concentrates in nonlinear imaging techniques like tissue harmonic imaging and contrast specific imaging. Emphasis is also placed in 3D imaging and its role on image guided intervention for oncology. Another main direction of research is imaging and quantification of tumor angiogenesis [Fig. 1(d)]. The department has a state of the art diagnostic ultrasound scanner (Philips iU22) [see Fig. 1 (a)-(b)] with real time 3D imaging capabilities [Fig. 1(c)] and with specially made research interface for radio frequency data collection.

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(a) (b)
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(c) (d)


Fig. 1. (a)-(b) The diagnostic medical scanner Philips iU22 at the university of Cyprus. (c) A 3D image of a 27 week fetus. (d) Contrast enhanced image of a liver tumor.

In terms of therapeutic applications of ultrasound, the research addresses high intensity focus ultrasound (HIFU), drug-targeted delivery, ultrasound-mediated gene transfection, and sonothrombolysis. One main theme of the research is microbubble contrast agents and their interactions with the ultrasound field and the body.

An integral prerequisite for a successful biomedical engineering program is the close collaboration between clinicians and engineers which also guaranties the interaction with patients and real clinical issues. Thus, the department has very close collaborations with clinicians in Cyprus (e.g., Bank of Cyprus Oncology Center, Nicosia General Hospital, Vascular Screening and Diagnostic Center) and Europe (e.g., Glasgow Royal Infirmary, University of Mannheim Medical Center). The department also has a Biomedical Ultrasound Laboratory, equipped with an ultrasonic tank facility, ultrasonic transducers, hydrophones, function generators, RF power amplifiers and a variety of tissue flow phantoms for all the required in-vitro experiments in this area.

2. MEMS for Biomedical Applications
Traditionally Micro-Electro-Mechanical devices and systems (MEMs) are made from mechanical, moving parts and electronic circuitry and have dimensions ranging from a few μm's to a few tens of μms. The scope of MEMs however has grown over the past few years to include biomedical applications such as controlled drug delivery bioMEMs with the intention of producing integrated Lab on Chip (LoC) solutions. Such bioMEMs can be fabricated in our clean room facility with the use of photolithography and/or electron beam lithography, sputtering of metals etc for a variety of applications. This emerging field of technology is anticipated to grow very strong in the next decades as health care will become increasingly important and a career in this area would be truly multidisciplinary and moreover a challenging opportunity.

3. Cancer Biophysics (Contact Person: Dr. T. Stylianopoulos)
This research area focuses on
 the application of principles from engineering and biology in order to investigate the mechanisms with which physical forces are related to tumor growth, progression and treatment. Cancer Biophysics is a vibrant, multi-disciplinary research lab where novel computational approaches are combined with state-of-the-art experimental techniques to further explore the mechano-pathology of cancers and overcome the barriers to the effective delivery of drugs to solid tumors.
 
 
PNAS tumor cut v3
Fig. 2. Mathematical modeling and experimental validation for the existence of growth-induced residual stresses in solid tumors. A partial cut of the tumor along its longest axis after excision causes the tumor to deform as a result of the relaxation of growth-induced stress.
 
 
 
We study the mechanics (solid and fluid) and drug delivery in solid tumors. Specifically, we investigate the evolution of fluid and solid stresses in tumors and how these stresses correlate to tumors' progression and the effective delivery of drugs. Furthermore, we develop strategies to improve delivery of chemo- and nano-therapeutic agents to tumors. These strategies involve the modification of the tumor micro-environment with therapeutic interventions so that tumors will become more accessible to anti-cancer agents, and the development of design rules (i.e., proper particle size and surface charge density) for the optimal delivery of nanoscale drugs.


4. Biomechanics

5. Nanotechnology for tissue engineering 

Funded Projects in this Area
 
1. European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant (ERC-2013-StG-336839 ReEngineeringCancer). Title: "Re-engineering the tumor microenvironment to alleviate mechanical stresses and improve chemotherapy". 1,440,360 Euros. January 2014 - December 2018.
 
2. FP7 Marie-Curie International Reintegration Grant (FP7-PEOPLE-2010-RG-276894 Cancer Nanomedicine). Title: "Optimizing the Delivery of Nanomedicine to Solid Tumors". 100,000 Euros. August 2011- July 2015.
 
3. European Commission, Marie Curie Chair of Excellence, " New Technologies for imaging and quantification of tumour angiogenesis with ultrasound contrast agents", Duration: 1/9/2006 - 31/8/2009, Budget: 492,580 Euro.
 
4. Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation (IPE), " Imaging and quantification of the perfusion of atherosclerotic plaques", Duration:1/3/2007 - 28/2/2010, Budget: £89,310.