Department of Biomedical Engineering


Richard L. Goldberg, Director of Undergraduate Studies at UNC–Chapel Hill

Lianne Cartee, Director of Undergraduate Studies at NC State


The joint Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) is a department of both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. The department oversees a joint graduate program at these institutions. However, the undergraduate biomedical engineering program at UNC–Chapel Hill is separate and distinct from the undergraduate program at NCSU.

Biomedical engineering is a profession that develops and applies engineering knowledge and experience to solve problems in biology and medicine and to enhance health care. Biomedical engineers are professionally trained to combine the rigors of medical and biological studies with the power of engineering analysis and design. People become biomedical engineers to be of service to others, to enjoy the excitement of understanding living systems, and to use state-of-the-art science and technology to solve the complex problems of medical care. The emphasis in biomedical engineering is on finding solutions by researching, testing, and applying medical, biological, chemical, electrical, and materials engineering approaches. Biomedical engineers are unique individuals who make contributions to health care that are both satisfying to themselves and beneficial to others.

Applied Science Major, B.S.–Biomedical Engineering Track (124 hours)

In this major, students learn to apply engineering principles to solve problems in medicine and biology. This is a field of great breadth that incorporates medical imaging, informatics, micro and nanosystems, prosthetics, medical devices, tissue engineering and genomics, drug delivery, and applications of signal processing and control.

The first two years of study have many courses in common with the B.S. programs in chemistry, physics, computer science, or mathematical sciences. The curriculum, as for all sciences, is vertically structured, with experience and knowledge from each course serving as a foundation for subsequent courses. Students' attention to prerequisites is important. The specific requirements are listed below. Students are also encouraged to engage in research in a laboratory at UNC–Chapel Hill or elsewhere, or have an internship experience in industry.

Core Requirements

Additional Requirements

Students should take the following courses, preferably in their first two years:

Students must satisfy all Foundations, Approaches, and Connections requirements, as outlined elsewhere in this bulletin. Some General Education requirements should be met with specific courses as listed above.


For the first two years all majors have a primary academic advisor in Steele Building. Students are strongly encouraged to meet regularly with their advisor and review their Tar Heel Tracker each semester. Students who have questions that their advisor cannot answer can schedule an appointment with the department's director of undergraduate studies.

In the spring of the sophomore year, all majors will be assigned to a biomedical engineering faculty advisor. From this point onward, students are required to meet with their departmental advisor every semester in order to be cleared to register for classes.

Further information on courses, undergraduate research opportunities, the honors program, careers, and graduate schools may be obtained from the department's Web site.

Special Opportunities in Biomedical Engineering

Honors in Applied Sciences: Biomedical Engineering

Students who successfully complete a research project and have a sufficiently outstanding academic record are eligible for graduation with honors or highest honors. The requirements of the curriculum for graduation with honors or highest honors are 1) overall grade point average of 3.3 or higher, 2) completion of a two-semester research project, with course credit given in BMME 691H and 692H, 3) presentation of the research to a committee of three faculty, both as an oral presentation and a written honors thesis, and 4) approval by that committee. For consideration for highest honors, the research project must be judged to be of publishable quality.

Students wishing to be considered for graduation with honors should apply to the director of undergraduate studies by September 15 for those who are graduating in May or August, or by January 15 for those who are graduating in December.

Departmental Involvement

Student organizations include the BME club. This is an official UNC–Chapel Hill club that organizes speakers, outreach to industry and medical school, and mentoring, among other activities.

Experiential Education

All students in biomedical engineering participate in a capstone design experience in which they develop a device or system that has biomedical applications. This project fulfills the General Education experiential education requirement.

Undergraduate Awards

One cash award is given annually for excellent scholarship and research. The Flexcell Award is given through a corporate donation from Flexcell International Corporation, a company started by Albert Banes, a faculty member in biomedical engineering.

Undergraduate Research

Students are strongly encouraged to undertake a research project at any time during their education, but particularly during their junior and/or senior years. Through the challenge of a research project, students come face to face with the leading edge of an area, gain expertise with state-of-the-art techniques and instrumentation, and experience a professional scientific career firsthand. A number of faculty members on campus (particularly those in the School of Medicine, School of Dentistry, School of Pharmacy, and in the Departments of Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, Computer Science, and Biomedical Engineering) conduct research projects related to biomedical engineering.

The department helps to coordinate research activities and facilitates connections between students and research laboratories. This is accomplished through communication via e-mail and the department Web site. Also, the department organizes laboratory "open houses," in which students can visit faculty laboratories and learn about their research opportunities. The UNC–Chapel Hill Office for Undergraduate Research is also an excellent resource for finding research opportunities.


The Department of Biomedical Engineering houses an undergraduate student design laboratory. It contains equipment for rapid manufacturing (three-dimensional printer and laser cutter) as well as electronics and microcontroller design and development. Students also use facilities in other departments that have laboratory-based courses.

Graduate School and Career Opportunities

Many students from this program have pursued further education in graduate school in biomedical engineering. Our alumni have attended many of the top-ranked biomedical engineering programs. In addition, some students have pursued graduate degrees in other disciplines in engineering, as well as related fields such as microbiology, sports physiology, public health, and business/engineering management among others. Students have also been accepted into clinical programs such as medical, dental, physical therapy, and pharmacy schools (in many cases, the student must take several additional courses to meet the requirements for clinical programs).

For those interested in going directly into a career, biomedical engineering is one of the fastest growing career opportunities. Graduates are employed by hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, medical device and testing companies, government agencies, universities, and medical schools.



Nancy Allbritton, Paul Dayton, M. Gregory Forest, Edward Grant, Leaf Huang, Mike Jay, Frances Ligler, Weili Lin, Elizabeth Loboa, Terry Magnuson, Matthew Mauro, Russell Mumper, H. Troy Nagle, Roger Narayan, Harold Pillsbury, J. Michael Ramsey, Steven Soper.

Associate Professors

Ted Bateman, Lianne Cartee, Ke Cheng, Jacqueline Cole, Bob Dennis, Andrew DiMeo, Oleg Favorov, Caterina Gallippi, Michael Gamcsik, Richard Goldberg, Shawn Gomez, Helen Hunag, Albena Ivanisevic, David Lalush, Jeffrey Macdonald, Hatice Ozturk, Mark Tommerdahl, Glenn Walker, Paul Weinhold.

Assistant Professors

Matthew Fisher, Zhen Gu, Greg McCarty, Gianmarco Pinton, Gregory Sawicki, Anne Marion Taylor.


Kenneth Donnelly, Devin Hubbard.

Professors Emeriti

Charlie Frank Abrams, Albert Banes, Carol Lucas.

Contact Information

Richard Goldberg, Director of Undergraduate Studies, CB# 7575, 149-B Macnider Hall,


BMME–Biomedical Engineering

BMME 89 First-Year Seminar: Special Topics (3). Special topics course. Content will vary each semester.

BMME 101 Frontiers of Biomedical Engineering (1). An introduction to the groundbreaking tools and topics of biomedical engineering, including medical imaging, medical robotics, rehabilitative engineering, regenerative medicine, and medical device design.

BMME 150 Introduction to Materials Science (3). Prerequisite, CHEM 102; pre- or corequisites, MATH 383 and PHYS 117. The materials science of electronic, metallic, polymeric, ceramic, and composite materials and their processing are introduced. The electronic, optical, magnetic, and structural properties of materials are related to their uses.

BMME 160 Statics (3). Prerequisites, MATH 232 and PHYS 116. The resolution, distribution, and transfer of forces in rigid structural bodies.

BMME 190 Special Topics in Biomedical Engineering (1–3). A study in the special fields under the direction of the faculty. Offered as needed for presenting material not normally available in regular BMME courses.

BMME 210 BME Design and Manufacturing I (2). Corequisite, PHYS 116 or 118. Students will learn to use design software: SolidWorks and support/analysis programs such as COSMOS. Basic techniques for directly measuring solid objects using digital calipers, gauges, and identification of standard components to reverse-engineer the dimensions of the object. Specific topics covered: generation of designed solid model, three-view drawings, dimensions, tolerances, etc.

BMME 310 BME Design and Manufacturing II (2). Prerequisite, BMME 210. Students learn basic tools and procedures of modern design practice traditional and modern rapid manufacturing technologies/techniques. Laboratory exercises and Web-based instructional content.

BMME 341 Thermodynamics and Kinetics Applied to Solids (3). Prerequisites, BMME 150, MATH 383, and PHYS 117. The elements of thermodynamics and phenomenological kinetics of diffusion appropriate to solids are examined. Topics include equations of state, heat capacity, polyphase equilibria, phase transitions, diffusion, and interfaces.

BMME 350 Electronics for Biomedical Engineers (4). Prerequisite, PHYS 119. Fundamentals of analog and digital circuit analysis and design as applied to biomedical instrumentation and measurement of biological potentials. Class will consist of lectures and problem solving of analog and digital circuits. In lab students will design, develop, and test circuits, and acquire data to a computer using labview.

BMME 351 Human Physiology and Biological Measurements for Engineers (4). A course on the quantitative aspects of basic human physiology. Class work will provide students with a basic understanding of human anatomy and physiology. A laboratory portion will explore actual physiological measurement techniques and quantitatively evaluate human physiology using statistical analyses.

BMME 395 Research in Biomedical Engineering for Undergraduates (1–4). Permission of the director of undergraduate studies. At least nine hours of independent work a week. May be repeated for elective credit. Work may be counted towards graduation with honors or highest honors by petition to the curriculum chair. Further details are available from the curriculum office.

BMME 396 Independent Study in Biomedical Engineering (1–3). Permission of the director of undergraduate studies. Independent study under a member of the biomedical engineering faculty.

BMME 410 Systems and Signals (4). Prerequisite, MATH 383. Analysis of linear systems by transform methods to networks, including stability analysis. Survey of numerical methods for network solutions.

BMME 445 Systems Neuroscience (3). Introduction to methodologies used to characterize a) the aggregate behavior of living neural networks and b) the changes in that behavior that occur as a function of stimulus properties, pharmacological manipulations, and other factors that dynamically modify the functional status of the network.

BMME 455 Biofluid Mechanics (3). This course introduces students to basics of fluid mechanics (steady and pulsatile flows, laminar and turbulent flows, and Newtonian and non-Newtonian flows). Students learn the fundamental relationships and governing equations describing these types of flows and the basic physiology of certain systems that are highly associated with fluid flows.

BMME 460 Analytical Microscopy (3). The purpose of this course is to present microscopy techniques utilized in the analysis of biological and chemical samples. This course provides a systematic and in-depth examination of light and electron microscopy, including their various components, for example, detectors, light sources, and lenses. For graduate students and advanced undergraduates.

BMME 465 Biomedical Instrumentation I (4). Prerequisite, PHYS 351. Topics include basic electronic circuit design, analysis of medical instrumentation circuits, physiologic transducers (pressure, flow, bioelectric, temperate, and displacement). This course includes a laboratory where the student builds biomedical devices.

BMME 470 Tissue Engineering (3). Lectures in this course address how functional tissues can be fabricated from synthetic and biosynthetic materials. The course provides an overview of the field, commercial success and failure, and design principles that must be met to develop a process or fabricate a functional tissue-engineered part.

BMME 475 Transport Processes (3). This course serves as introduction for engineers pursuing transport phenomena and for future pharmaco-engineers requiring predictive models of mass transfer or pharmacodynamic models. Material is designed to address heat and mass transfer issues in nanotechnology, microfabrication, mems, cell therapies, bioartificial organs, as well as pharmacodynamic modeling of dynamic "omics" datasets.

BMME 485 Biotechnology (3). This course is designed to prepare a biomedical engineering student with the survey tools to understand key components in modern biotechnologies. Fundamental concepts, theory, design, operation, and analysis of the most common biotechnologies in bioengineering will be presented.

BMME 490 Special Topics in Biomedical Engineering (3–9). A study in the special fields under the direction of the faculty. Offered as needed for presenting material not normally available in regular BME department.

BMME 505 Biomechanics (3). Prerequisites, MATH 383, and PHYS 116 or 118. Fundamental principles of solid and fluid mechanics applied to biological systems. Human gait analysis, joint replacement, testing techniques for biological structures, and viscoelastic models are presented. Papers from current biomechanics literature will be discussed.

BMME 510 Biomaterials (3). Prerequisite, BIOL 101. Chemical, physical engineering, and biocompatibility aspects of materials, devices, or systems for implantation in or interfering with the body cells or tissues. Food and Drug Administration and legal aspects.

BMME 515 Introduction to Systems Biology (3). Prerequisite, MATH 383 or 528. Cells, tissues, organs, and organisms have been shaped through evolutionary processes to perform their functions in robust, reliable manners. This course investigates design principles and structure-function relationships of biomolecular networks. Emphasis will be placed on gene- and protein-circuits and their role in controlling cellular behavior and phenotype.

BMME 520 Fundamentals of Materials Engineering (3). The structure, defects, thermodynamics, kinetics, and properties (mechanical, electrical, thermal, and magnetic) of matter (metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites) will be considered.

BMME 530 Digital Signal Processing I (3). Prerequisite, COMP 110 or 116. This is an introduction to methods of automatic computation of specific relevance to biomedical problems. Sampling theory, analog-to-digital conversion, digital filtering will be explored in depth.

BMME 550 Medical Imaging: Ultrasonic, Optical, and Magnetic Resonance Systems (3). Prerequisites, BIOS 550 and 430, and PHYS 128. Physical and mathematical foundations of ultrasonic, optical, and magnetic resonance imaging systems in application to medical diagnostics. Each imaging modality is examined, highlighting critical system characteristics: underlying physics of the imaging system, including mechanisms of data generation and acquisition; image creation; and relevant image processing methods, such as noise reduction.

BMME 551 Medical Device Design I (3). Student multidisciplinary teams work with local medical professionals to define specific medical device concepts for implementation.

BMME 552 Medical Device Design II (3). Device prototypes designed in the first course in series. Good manufacturing practices; process validation; FDA quality system regulations; design verification and validation; regulatory approval planning; and intellectual property protection.

BMME 560 Medical Imaging: X-Ray, CT, and Nuclear Medicine Systems (3). Prerequisites, BIOS 550, BMME 410, and PHYS 128. Overview of medical imaging systems using ionizing radiation. Interaction of radiation with matter. Radiation production and detection. Radiography systems and applications. Tomography. PET and SPECT systems and applications.

BMME 565 Biomedical Instrumentation I (4). Prerequisite, PHYS 351. Topics include basic electronic circuit design, analysis of medical instrumentation circuits, physiologic transducers (pressure, flow, bioelectric, temperate, and displacement). This course includes a laboratory where the student builds biomedical devices.

BMME 576 Mathematics for Image Computing (COMP 576) (3). See COMP 576 for description.

BMME 580 Microcontroller Applications I (3). Introduction to digital computers for real-time processing and control of signals and systems. Programming input and output devices using C and assembly language is stressed. Case studies are used to present software design strategies for real-time laboratory systems.

BMME 581 Microcontroller Applications II (3). Prerequisites, BMME 465 and 580. Problems of interfacing computers with biomedical and systems are studied. Students collaborate to develop a new biomedical instrument. Projects have included process control, data acquisition, disk systems interfaces, and DMW interfaces between interconnected computers.

BMME 691H Honors Thesis (3). Research honors course. Prior approval needed from the chair or associate chair of the program for topic selection and faculty research mentor. Minimum GPA requirement, written report, and abstract requirements as set forth by the honors program.

BMME 692H Honors Thesis (3). Research honors thesis continuation with required GPA, research topic selection with approved faculty mentor. Written abstract and report per honors program guidelines submitted by specific deadlines.

BMME 697 Senior Design Project I (2). Prerequisite, BMME 310. Conceptual prelude and preparation to BMME 698, in which the theoretical and practical knowledge acquired during the undergraduate tenure is applied to develop a solution to a real-world problem.

BMME 698 Senior Design Project II (4). Prerequisite, BMME 697. Implementation phase of the senior design experience. Students apply the theoretical and practical knowledge they have acquired in their previous seven semesters to the design and implementation of a solution to a real-world problem.