Engineering in Medicine for a Global Society

Monday, February 27, 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
The FUNG Auditorium
Roderic I. Pettigrew

Founding Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, NIH

Engineering in Medicine for a Global Society


The biomedical research landscape has experienced remarkable changes over the past decades, made possible by impressive innovations that have emerged from trans-disciplinary science. These innovations set the stage for more precise, patient-oriented diagnostic, treatment and prevention strategies. These depended on 1) advances in our fundamental knowledge of molecular and cell interactions in health and disease, 2) continued improvements in diagnostics across all biophysical scales, and 3) more targeted therapeutic approaches including directing the body’s own immune system. Technological advances at the interface of engineering and the physical and life sciences promise new discoveries that can be turned into health through translational research. Twenty-first century challenges include global access to modern medicine, chronic disease from an aging population, the impact of a hyper-connected world, capitalizing on advances in molecular and genomic science, and realizing efficient delivery of healthcare where a conceptual value metric to be optimized for innovations is [Utility/ Cost x Complexity].  The overarching goal is precision medicine where the vision is that “the right treatment is given to the right patient at the right time.”  To this end, more efficient, sensitive and quantitative tools are expected to make remarkable improvements in healthcare delivery as the 21st century progresses and medicine becomes increasingly more precise. Making sure these advances are available to everyone has been and remains a global challenge. It is also important that as advances are made in acquiring personalized data both actively and passively, actionable aspects of this information need to be returned to the individual to realize greater effectiveness through more patient-centric healthcare.


Roderic I. Pettigrew, Ph.D., M.D., is the founding Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) at the NIH. Previously, he was Professor of Radiology, Medicine (Cardiology) at Emory University, Professor of Bioengineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, and Director of the Center for MR Research at Emory University School of Medicine. He is known internationally for his pioneering work involving 4D cardiovascular MRI. His current research focuses on predictive biomechanical modeling of coronary atherosclerotic disease. Dr. Pettigrew instituted a joint NIBIB – HHMI effort to create interdisciplinary graduate training programs, and established the Quantum Projects program to achieve “medical moon shots” that solve major healthcare problems. He has led international initiatives to develop low cost and point-of-care medical technologies, and a US-India collaboration to develop cuff-less technologies for blood pressure measurements. He created a consortium to advance technologies that reverse paralysis from spinal injuries. Other innovative programs include the Trailblazer Award for new investigators tackling high-reward problems, and the NIBIB-Coulter College Commercializing Innovation partnership to help guide small business award recipients to commercialization. Dr. Pettigrew has been elected to membership in US National Academy of Medicine and National Academy of Engineering, as well as National Academy of Sciences, India. Awards also include the Bennie Award for Achievement, Herbert Nickens Award of the ABC, Pritzker Distinguished Achievement Award of BMES, Distinguished Service Award of the NMA, Pierre Galletti award of AIMBE, Distinguished Service Award of the ISMRM, and Inaugural Gold Medal Award of the Academy of Radiology Research.