The Center for Biomedical Engineering partners with organizations both inside and outside of the School of Engineering. From the College of Arts and Sciences, we have faculty affiliates from the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department and the Biology Department. From the Health Sciences Center, we have faculty affiliates from the Pathology Department, from the Department of Surgery and from the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation. We also have effective partnerships and relationships with other centers. The three that are most tightly aligned with CBME interests and activities are the Center for High Technology Materials (CHTM), the Center for Micro- Engineered Materials (CMEM), and the Center for Emerging Energy Technologies (CEET). Of these, CHTM and CMEM are Category 3, and CEET is Category 2. We have shared faculty affiliates with all of these centers, participate in joint program development (e.g., a recent MRSEC preliminary proposal submission was a joint effort of The Center for Biomedical Engineering, The Center for High Technology Materials and The Center for Micro- Engineered Materials, and a recent successful instrumentation grant was a joint effort of the Center for Emerging Energy Technologies and the Center for Biomedical Engineering, among others), and make use of the specialized facilities or instrumentation that each center has developed or maintains (e.g., CMEM sustains most of the electron microscopy capabilities at UNM). We have strong working relationships with all these centers, sustained by regular meetings amongst the respective directors. We also work closely with one another on developing strategic initiatives. For example, CHTM has taken the leadership on developing an initiative in Intelligent Imaging, for which CBME has been helping build connections to biological applications. Likewise, CBME's work in developing bioanalytical separation methods has been enhanced by the state-of- the-art nanofluidic fabrication capabilities and expertise in CHTM.The Center for Biomedical Engineering's important partnerships with UNM's Health Sciences Center take several different forms. At the very highest level, there are regular interactions of CBME and School of Engineering leadership with the Vice President for Research at the Health Sciences Center. These coordinating meetings help identify joint opportunities or possible collaborative interactions.
At the level of individual faculty, a number of interactions have been developed that have led to joint proposal submissions. The Health Sciences Center also runs an interdisciplinary graduate program, the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program (BSGP), and several BSGP students are carrying out their thesis research in the Center for Biomedical Engineering's facilities working closely with engineering faculty. Another area of partnership has developed around the Biodesign program, which is an effort led out of the NIH-supported Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC) located at the Health Sciences Center. Every year, the CTSC identifies a topic area in which engineering and clinical researchers might intersect to develop new technologies that could be translated to clinical use in a relatively short time frame. The previous three years topics have been in neurosurgery, diabetes treatment and management, and orthopaedics. For each, a team was assembled, met repeatedly over several months to brainstorm and assess several possible ideas, and settled on an approach to develop technology that, if successful, might be translated to clinical use (e.g., infrared imaging of cerebral shunt function, optical analysis of a patient's glycemic history, or a yet-to- be-determined orthopaedic application). A small amount of seed funding is provided to target proof-of-principle development. At present, all of these efforts are still works in progress, so the long-term impact is still to be determined. However, each exercise has opened up a new set of collaborative interactions that connect engineering and clinical expertise, and we are confident that there will be a long-term benefit from these interactions alone.
Local national laboratories provide a very important set of partners for the Center for Biomedical Engineering. We have joint programs with both Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories. Over its history, The Center for Biomedical Engineering has benefitted from these partnerships in numerous ways, including the transfer of surplus equipment from the labs to the Center for Biomedical Engineering, the ability of students to work in national laboratory settings, and in some cases, the mentoring of students by national laboratory staff. At times, there have also been direct investments in collaborative research with UNM by the laboratories, Los Alamos in particular. Some of our faculty have succeeded in competing for these funds. In addition, we have a strategic partnership with the New Mexico Consortium (NMC), which is a research corporation operated by the three research universities within New Mexico (UNM, New Mexico State, and New Mexico Tech), with the primary purpose of facilitating research collaborations between investigators at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the universities. The NMC has four science initiatives, one of which is Biomedical Technology and Engineering, and for which The Center for Biomedical Engineering is the lead university partnering organization. As one example of this interaction, there is an active ongoing funded collaborative program looking at identifying and controlling Shiga toxin producing E. coli in the nation's food supply.
Another very important aspect of our partnerships with the national laboratories is through the scientific user facilities that these labs operate. Los Alamos operates the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE), and some of our faculty have engaged in collaborative research with the x-ray and neutron scattering experts at that facility. Los Alamos and Sandia jointly operate the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT), a Department of Energy supported Nanoscale Science Research Center that functions as a scientific user facility. Access to CINT's facilities and expertise is obtained through a peer-reviewed user proposal process. Several Center for Biomedical Engineering students and faculty are current or past users of CINT, and we have also worked with the scientific staff at CINT to develop successful joint external proposals. Some of the capabilities and expertise at CINT that are of particular interest and benefit to the Center for Biomedical Engineering researchers include a state-of-the-art in situ transmission electron microscopy capability, advanced single-molecule detection and imaging capabilities for biological systems, synthesis and characterization of nanocluster and nanoparticle fluorescent probes, atomic force microscopy expertise, model biological membrane assembly and characterization, and development of hybrid polymer- biological material systems.
The Center for Biomedical Engineering has also been developing partnerships with other universities in New Mexico. We have faculty affiliates from both New Mexico Tech and New Mexico State University. These affiliates are engaged in developing collaborative research opportunities. For example, we have worked with New Mexico State faculty in the area of instrumentation development, specifically the use of fluorescence lifetime detection methods in flow-based analysis. New Mexico Tech faculty are active in the area of biomaterial based drug delivery systems, development of chip-based bioanalytical systems, and are also engaged in helping build collaborative interactions between the engineering community and orthopedics in the area of biomechanics. On the academic side, these connections are also beneficial. Courses can be offered across institutions (based on demand), and as another example, NMT faculty are participating as committee members on graduate student qualifying exams. These efforts are initial steps on our path toward creating a large and vibrant state-wide biomedical engineering community that integrates research and academic efforts across the partner institutions.