Biomedical engineering sciences

Position Paper | Year 2003
Biomedical engineering sciences: key technology for modern health care
Class of Technical Sciences
In the past few decades, medicine and health care have evolved into a highly specialized technological branch, offering tremendous possibilities for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease. This (r)evolution was made possible thanks to breakthroughs in genetics and molecular biology, supported by advanced engineering realizations in 3-dimensional high resolution (medical) imaging, new (bio)materials and biomechanics, robot assisted minimally invasive surgery, artificial organs, automation of laboratory research, bio-informatics, information and communication technology, … Health care is no longer the domain of clinicians alone. Modern health care runs on versatile, multidisciplinary teams, where biomedical engineers play an important role as problemsolvers, balancing technological, socio-economic and ethical considerations. At present, health care accounts for 8% of the Belgian Gross Domestic Production. Given the demographic evolution, it is expected that this number will further rise (14% in United States). Obviously, biomedical engineering is an important growth pole.

At present, Flemish universities offer graduate programs in life sciences, but the focus is on molecular cell biology and genetics. In an attempt to fill in the urgent need for biomedicine trained engineers, the universities of Leuven (KULeuven), Gent (UGent) and Brussels (VUB) offer nowadays postgraduate courses in 'Biomedical and Clinical Engineering Technology'. These courses, open to students with versatile background, do not provide an in-depth training in engineering technology. As such, and in contrast to many other European countries and the United States, Flanders has no dedicated master programs to encounter this urgent need of 'biomedical engineers'.

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