Passing the Torch

Passing the Torch 150 150 IEEE Pulse
Author(s): Bruce Wheeler

One of the true honors of being the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) president is the opportunity to write the “President’s Message” for IEEE Pulse. I have greatly enjoyed having this platform to express my enthusiasm for the growing field of BME, its past and current successes, and the many opportunities for current and future professionals. My motivations are many, but a constant theme has been that the responsibility of the EMBS is to provide assistance and opportunity to its members—through publications, conferences, workshops, schools, awards, and distinguished lecturers—and especially to the generation currently in school.
Hence, my term has emphasized the growing area of biomedical and health informatics, which I believe is crucial for jobs, new research, and for improving health care. As a reflection of the growing importance of this field, the EMBS has strengthened its journals in this area (IEEE Journal on Biomedical and Health Informatics, IEEE Journal on Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine, IEEE Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, and the new IEEE Life Science Letters), as well as its topical conferences on biomedical and health informatics (BHI) in 2012 and 2014, and 2016, and our collaboration with the International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering for BHI 2015. Our topical conference, Health Care Innovations and Point-of-Care Technologies, reaches out to a much more clinical and industrial audience, which will be of growing importance in our future.
The EMBS has fostered many growing areas that needed little guidance from my side. Neural engineering continues to grow in strength through our journal IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering as well as our Neural Engineering Conference— now in its ninth year—and our Grand Challenge BRAIN Meeting in November 2014. The Micro- and Nanotechnology in Medicine Conference is superb, as is the growing reputation of the International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging. Our imaging journal, IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging, is top ranked, as is our general journal, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. Both are seeing tremendous growth and substantial improvements in quality and timeliness. Finally, we are growing stronger in multiple other areas, and I refer the reader to my column [1] to see the true breadth and depth.
In addition, I am pleased with the growth in student-run conferences—a brave and dedicated group of students held the first in Cairo, Egypt, in fall 2013, with more than 200 attendees. This effort has grown to five conferences in 2014, building a program conceived by Christopher James.
As I prepare to pass the torch, my successor as president of EMBS, Prof. Andrew Laine, brings tremendous experience to the position. He has been the cochair of the New York City annual EMB Conference, vice president for publications, and a longtime contributor to a number of diverse EMBS activities. Recently appointed as the chair of biomedical engineering at Columbia University, one of the top five BME departments in the United States, he brings even more experience and connections to the quickly growing area of biomedical engineering and, in particular, biomedical imaging and health informatics. Andrew has great vision and is ready to lead the EMBS to even greater heights.
At this time, I cannot individually acknowledge all of the wonderful and strong contributors to the EMBS, although I do wish to mention the debt all of us volunteers have to the staff of the EMBS Executive Office—Laura Wolf, Alicia Tomaszewski, Jessica Lotito, and Janice Sandler.
Finally, I walk in the shoes of outstanding EMBS presidents, including Zhi Pei Liang, Bin He, Donna Hudson, Yongmin Kim, Henrietta Galliana, Christian Roux, Andrew Szato, Banu Onaral, Robert Kearney, John Enderle, Susan Blanchard, Janie Fouke, Gerald Harris, and Charles Robinson. To acknowledge their wisdom and continuing contributions, future EMBC annual conferences will have meetings of the past presidents. I look forward to joining this amazing group of individuals.


  1. B. Wheeler, “EMBS at half a century: IEEE’s original life science and biomedical engineering initiative grows stronger every year,” IEEE Pulse, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 6–13, Jan./Feb. 2014.