Biomedical Engineering Curriculum

The Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program offers four primary research and teaching tracks: Biomedical and Molecular ImagingBiomaterials, Mechanics, and Tissue EngineeringMedical Physics, and Molecular and Translational Nanomedicine. Ph.D. students complete a flexible curriculum which typically includes track-specific engineering and life science courses as well as several advanced electives (see sample degree plans). Students also attend BME seminars given by faculty members, and participate in a Works-in-Progress course in which they present and receive feedback on their dissertation research. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the Program, students often take courses from other Programs in the Division of Basic Science at UT Southwestern, as well as graduate level classes at UT Arlington and UT Dallas.

All doctoral students must pass three examinations. Exam I is the qualifying exam, usually given during the second year. It consists of a written examination, based on a broad problem in the area of the student’s research, and an oral examination in which the student critiques and defends his or her written response. Successful completion of the qualifying examination is required to advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. Exam II consists of a detailed written prospectus of the proposed dissertation research and an oral defense of the proposal. Exam III is the final defense of the completed dissertation.

A supervisory research committee is formed for each doctoral candidate after successful completion of Exam I. This committee reviews and evaluates the student’s progress and participates in the proposal and dissertation defenses.

The curriculum for first-year students includes track-specific core courses, three or four laboratory rotations, and training in responsible conduct of research.

Course Descriptions

The primary courses associated with each track are included below. Note that in addition to these courses, students often take courses from other Graduate Programs in the Division of Basic Science at UT Southwestern, as well as BME courses offered at UT Arlington and UT Dallas.

Biomedical and Molecular Imaging Track

 

Intro to Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) (BME 5371)
3 credit hours

Introduction to NMR is intended to provide a fundamental understanding of magnetic resonance and the associated phenomena of relaxation and coherence excitation. Using both a vector model and product operators, a general method for describing the current state of the art magnetic resonance experiments is developed. Students will demonstrate working knowledge about the underlying principles and in-vivo applications of several multi-nuclei magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) modalities, including conventional MRS, spectral editing, 2D NMR, spectroscopic imaging, etc.  The students will demonstrate the ability to describe the radio-frequency and gradient pulse actions and the NMR consequences, using mathematical and quantum-mechanical tools (e.g., product operator formalism).  By the end of the course, the students will demonstrate the ability to track the NMR coherence evolution over any types of NMR sequence and will demonstrate the capability of designing new MRS techniques and interpreting the spectroscopic results for evaluation of certain physiological or pathological processes at cellular and molecular levels in the living body. Students will demonstrate the ability to design an MRS protocol for studying some physiological or pathological processes.

Introduction to Biomedical and Molecular Imaging (BME 5372)
3 credit hours

By the end of this course, the students will demonstrate working knowledge about individual imaging modalities including X-ray, CT, ultrasound, optical imaging, MRI and nuclear imaging, which are the most commonly used in clinical or preclinical research. The students will demonstrate proficiency in the underlying mathematic and physical mechanisms of each imaging modality.  By the end of the course, the students will demonstrate the ability to design imaging techniques and imaging sequences, process imaging data and interpret imaging findings for evaluation of certain physiological or pathological process at cellular and molecular levels, such as vascular perfusion and permeability, water diffusion change, etc.  Students will demonstrate the ability to propose imaging techniques for some specific physiological or pathological process.

Principles of MRI (BME 5374)
3 credit hours

Course will cover the principles of Magnetic Resonance Imaging.  Topics include introduction to Radio-Frequency pulses, spatial information end-coding using gradients, signal acquisition and processing.  Students will demonstrate a working knowledge of basic MRI imaging techniques including gradient and spin echo, fast spin echo, echo planar imaging.  In addition, students will demonstrate an understanding of advanced MRI imaging methods applied in research and clinical environments.

Metabolic Imaging of Disease (BME 5375)
3 credit hours

Many human diseases are associated with disruption of cell metabolism.   Understanding the principles of metabolism is valuable for designing and interpreting diagnostic studies as well as understanding the effects of many therapies.  In this course, the fundamentals of intermediary metabolism and bioenergetics will be presented. The links between abnormal metabolism and disease will be emphasized.   Although the focus is not on technology, research and diagnostic methods to probe metabolism, including radiotracers, mass spectrometry, NMR, magnetic resonance imaging and positron tomography will be introduced.

Molecular Imaging & Probe Development (BME 5373)
3 credit hours

Molecular imaging probe development and technique implementation represents one of the "New Pathways to Discovery" in the NIH Roadmap for medical research (http://nihroadmap.nih.gov/initiatives.asp). The purpose of this course is to provide students with a basic understanding of the chemistry & biology roles in molecular imaging probe development. The concepts for imaging probe design, synthesis, and evaluation in diseased animal models will be introduced with focus on major imaging techniques and their biomedical applications

Human Physiology (BME 5309)
3 credits

A comprehensive study of the basic functions of the body systems and their interrelationships is offered in this course.

Mathematical Biostatistics Clinical Invest (CTM 5391)
3 credit hours

Traditional, mathematical approach to statistical analysis of biomedical data. Topics include data description, summary statistics, elements of probability, distributions of random variables including applications of the binomial and normal distributions, estimation and confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, analysis of variance, correlation and regression and contingency tables. Additional topics include statistical power, sample size, and study design.

Molecular and Translational Nanomedicine Track

 

DBS Core Course – Genes
2 credit hours

Molecular genetics of model organisms; DNA replication, repair, and recombination; transcription; RNA catalysis, processing, and interference; translation; protein turnover; developmental biology; and genomics.

DBS Core Course – Proteins
2 credit hours

The energetic basis of protein structure; stability; ligand binding and regulation; enzyme mechanics and kinetics; methods of purification; and analysis by spectroscopic methods.

DBS Core Course – Cells
2 credit hours

Cell structure; membrane biology; intracellular membrane and protein trafficking; energy conversion; signal transduction and second messengers; cytoskeleton; cell cycle; and introductory material in microbiology, immunology, and neurobiology.

Translational Nanomedicine I
1.5 credit hours

This course present the fundamentals underlying molecular design of nanomedicine platforms to help translate basic biological science to clinical medicine. Molecular design and nanoengineering will be closely integrated with pathophysiology and biological rationales to establish emerging precision paradigms for disease diagnosis and therapy.

Metabolic Imaging of Disease (BME 5375)
3 credit hours

Many human diseases are associated with disruption of cell metabolism.   Understanding the principles of metabolism is valuable for designing and interpreting diagnostic studies as well as understanding the effects of many therapies.  In this course, the fundamentals of intermediary metabolism and bioenergetics will be presented. The links between abnormal metabolism and disease will be emphasized.   Although the focus is not on technology, research and diagnostic methods to probe metabolism, including radiotracers, mass spectrometry, NMR, magnetic resonance imaging and positron tomography will be introduced.

Human Physiology (BME 5309)
3 credits

A comprehensive study of the basic functions of the body systems and their interrelationships is offered in this course.

Mathematical Biostatistics Clinical Invest (CTM 5391)
3 credit hours

Traditional, mathematical approach to statistical analysis of biomedical data. Topics include data description, summary statistics, elements of probability, distributions of random variables including applications of the binomial and normal distributions, estimation and confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, analysis of variance, correlation and regression and contingency tables. Additional topics include statistical power, sample size, and study design.

Biomaterials, Mechanics and Tissue Engineering Track

 

DBS Core Course – Genes
2 credit hours

Molecular genetics of model organisms; DNA replication, repair, and recombination; transcription; RNA catalysis, processing, and interference; translation; protein turnover; developmental biology; and genomics.

DBS Core Course – Proteins
2 credit hours

The energetic basis of protein structure; stability; ligand binding and regulation; enzyme mechanics and kinetics; methods of purification; and analysis by spectroscopic methods.

DBS Core Course – Cells
2 credit hours

Cell structure; membrane biology; intracellular membrane and protein trafficking; energy conversion; signal transduction and second messengers; cytoskeleton; cell cycle; and introductory material in microbiology, immunology, and neurobiology.

BME 5312 – Biomechanics in Human Disease
3 credit hours

The objective is to provide bioengineering students with a quantitative understanding of the biomechanical properties of hard and soft human tissues in their physiological and pathological aspects, and of methods to measure and analyze these properties.  The fundamental principles of solid mechanics are introduced and applied to selected human tissues. Normal tissue biomechanical characteristics are presented and contrasted with changes due to pathological conditions.  Current corrective treatments are described by guest clinicians. Students are expected to provide critical reviews on current challenges and novel developments in selected topics.

Human Physiology (BME 5309)
3 credits

A comprehensive study of the basic functions of the body systems and their interrelationships is offered in this course.

Mathematical Biostatistics Clinical Invest (CTM 5391)
3 credit hours

Traditional, mathematical approach to statistical analysis of biomedical data. Topics include data description, summary statistics, elements of probability, distributions of random variables including applications of the binomial and normal distributions, estimation and confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, analysis of variance, correlation and regression and contingency tables. Additional topics include statistical power, sample size, and study design.

Medical Physics Track

 

Fundamentals of Imaging in Medicine
3 credit hours

This course is designed to introduce students to the general concepts of image science, including the inverse problem, signal processing, system performance, linear system theory, digital image processing, stochastic processes, image reconstruction, quantification, and decision theory. The covered material will conform to the curriculum  of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine to cover the essential medical physics didactic elements related to radiation protection and radiation safety  for individuals  entering the medical physics profession through an alternative pathway as published in AAPM report number 197.

Radiation Protection and Safety
3 credit hours

This course will cover the fundamental concepts of radiation protection and radiation safety. The main focus will be on physics of radiation protection, instrumentation used in radiation protection, shielding and relevant regulatory requirements, statistical methods used in radiation protection, protection against non-ionizing and ultrasound radiation, internal exposure due during nuclear medicine applications. The covered material will conform to the curriculum of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine to cover the essential medical physics didactic elements related to radiation protection and radiation safety for individuals entering the medical physics profession through an alternative pathway as published in AAPM report number 197.

Radiological Physics and Dosimetry
3 credit hours

This course will cover the fundamental concepts of radiation physics and radiation dosimetry. The main focus will be on quantitative description of the interaction of ionizing radiation with matter and on how to theoretically predict and experimentally measure the absorbed energy in matter. The covered material will conform to the curriculum of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine to cover the essential medical physics didactic elements related to radiological physics and dosimetry for individuals entering the medical physics profession through an alternative pathway as published in AAPM report number 197

Radiobiology
3 credits

This course covers the fundamental concepts of radiobiology; the physical interaction of ionizing radiation with matter with a focus on biological responses from the molecular level to the whole organism and the consequences of such interactions including carcinogenic risk, hereditary risk, non-cancer risks and anti-tumor effects. There is a strong emphasis placed on the understanding of the underlying principles of therapeutic uses of ionizing radiation in modern radiation oncology practice.

Radiation Therapy
3 credit hours

This course is designed to introduce students to the general concepts of medical physics applied in radiation therapy of cancer disease, including External Beam Radiation Therapy, Brachytherapy, Treatment Planning, Radiation Therapy Devices and Radiation Therapy with Neutrons, Protons, and Heavy Ions. The covered material will conform to the curriculum  of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine to cover the essential medical physics didactic elements related to therapeutic medical physics  for individuals  entering the medical physics profession through an alternative pathway as published in AAPM report number 197.