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Medical and Biological Engineering in the Next 20 Years: The Promise and the Challenges

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College of Fellows, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering
Robert A. Linsenmeier, Corresponding author
Volume: 60, Issue: 7, Page(s): 1767-1775 (Open Access)


The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE; www.aimbe.org) has a dual mission: to honor outstanding medical and biological engineers, and to inform public policy in the areas of medical and biological engineering.  To celebrate its twentieth anniversary in 2011, the College of Fellows of AIMBE identified major societal challenges to which medical and biological engineers can contribute solutions in the next twenty years.  Medical  (biomedical)  engineering deals primarily with human health, while biological engineering may include areas as diverse as food and energy.   This report discusses the six major challenges that were identified.  It also discusses some specific areas within these broad challenges that can form the basis for policy action, provides a brief rationale for pursuing those areas, and discusses roadblocks to progress.  The six overarching challenges are: 1) Engineering a safe and sustainable water and food supply, 2) Engineering personalized health care, 3) Engineering solutions to injury and chronic diseases, 4) Engineering global health through infectious disease prevention and therapy, 5) Engineering sustainable bioenergy production, and 6) Engineering the 21st century US economy.  An additional goal is to reduce racial, gender, and other disparities in medical treatments and in access to high quality food and water.  While arrived at independently by AIMBE, many of the elements overlap with similar challenges identified by other bodies of engineering experts. The similarities highlight the central mission of medical and biological engineers, working with other experts in science, medicine, engineering, and policy, which is to solve important problems central to human health and welfare.

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