Faculty Publications & Research


Biomedical Engineering – An Integrated Approach to Physiology

Document Type

Conference Paper/Presentation


Presented at the Experimental Biology Conference, San Diego

Publication Date



Biological Engineering | Physiology


The Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA) is a residential school for students of Illinois gifted in Math and Science. Several programs are offered during summers through the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), the outreach arm of IMSA, to ignite student curiosity and passion for science and math and foster interest in STEM. An additional benefit of these programs is that they provide participants with hands‐on inquiry driven laboratory experiences. One of the most popular programs offered is the week‐long Physiology and Biomedical Engineering program, which I have taught for the past several years. Stemming from a successful student activity in my Physiology course, the curriculum is designed to enable students to apply physiological concepts to real world applications using engineering techniques. Students are tasked with visualizing the relationships between the structure and function of the cardiovascular system through biomedical engineering ‐ the creation of heart models, which are designed, engineered, and built during the course of the week. This is followed by a discussion of the biophysics of the fluid dynamics of a closed circuit ‐ how pressure, thickness and resistance factor into blood flow. Although only the mechanical system of the heart is modeled due to time constraints, the electrical system is discussed in the context of the heart models built. Students also have the opportunity to model different pathological conditions in their heart models such as atherosclerosis and Crohn’s disease, and explain the biophysical, molecular and biochemical basis of their creations. Through model‐building and testing, students learn how to apply and integrate engineering principles and biophysics to understand the complex workings of the cardiovascular system.