University of Texas at Austin to Host Biomedical Engineering Meeting, Oct. 6-9

The nation's leading experts in biomedical engineering will meet in Austin Oct. 6-9 to network with top faculty and students from around the world, collaborate on new research and discuss the future of biomedical engineering, one of the fastest growing fields in the nation.

The annual Biomedical Engineering Society Meeting (BMES), regarded as one of the premier events in the nation to showcase and research, will be hosted for the first time by The University of Texas at Austin's Biomedical Engineering Department (BME).

"As an up-and-coming region we have amazing potential and you're seeing growth in [this field] move forward because of the city's entrepreneurship, creativity, educated workforce and The University of Texas at Austin," said Susan Davenport, senior vice president of global technology strategies for the Austin Chamber of Commerce. "I don't think it's unimaginable that we could grow to a leadership position in this."

Since the undergraduate program in the Biomedical Engineering Department started in 2001, Davenport said, the number of life science companies in Central Texas has jumped from 35-40 to about 120.

Employment numbers for biomedical engineers in five counties in Central Texas, including Travis, Williamson and Hays, are projected to increase by 77 percent by 2020, according to Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc.

The increase in startups is due in part to the compatibility between Austin's technology industry and the biomedical field, Davenport said, and is reflective of what's happening nationally.

About 3,000 industry and academia leaders are expected to attend the three-day meeting at the Austin Convention Center and University of Texas at Austin campus, where research presentations will be made on everything from tissue regeneration, drug discovery, novel imaging techniques for early disease detection and cancer therapeutics.

"The annual BMES meeting is the largest and most prestigious biomedical engineering meeting in the country. Selection of Austin by the Board of BMES for this year's meeting indicates that The University of Texas at Austin is already recognized as one of the premier BME schools in the country," said Department Chair Dr. Nicholas Peppas.

Even though the BME undergraduate program graduated its first class in 2006, it's already the fourth largest program in the nation.

Peppas said in the past 22 months, the department has spun out 12 new startups working with the university's Office of Technology Commercialization.

"From education to research to technology commercialization, the department's faculty and students are translating their discoveries to innovation, and they are learning by practicing," said Gregory L. Fenves, dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. "This is the bedrock of the innovation economy and a key to success for our students."

The BMES meeting will start Oct. 6 with a dinner for biomedical engineering department chairs from across the U.S. Panel discussions, award presentations and career-related activities will be open to participants throughout the three days. On Oct. 8 a Distinguished Speakers Session will be held in the morning and a dinner will follow that evening.

Peppas said faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students will make more than 150 presentations on their research and will interact with leading figures in their field. Faculty members will be recognized with three plenary lectures, two national awards and election of one of its members to BMES Fellow.

BMES Executive Director Edward Schilling said Austin, with its central location and the presence of The University of Texas at Austin, is an attractive place to hold the annual meeting -- something that's evident from the record number of attendees this year.

An agenda for the BMES meeting can be found online at the society's Web site.