Grand Challenges at the Interface of Engineering and Medicine

Shankar Subramaniam, Metin Akay, Mark A. Anastasio, Vasudev Bailey, David Boas, Paolo Bonato, Ashutosh Chilkoti, Jennifer R. Cochran, Vicki Colvin, Tejal A. Desai, James S. Duncan, Frederick H. Epstein, Stephanie Fraley, Cecilia Giachelli, K. Jane Grande-Allen, Jordan Green, X. Edward Guo, Isaac B. Hilton, Jay D. Humphrey, Chris R. JohnsonGeorge Karniadakis, Michael R. King, Robert F. Kirsch, Sanjay Kumar, Cato T. Laurencin, Song Li, Richard L. Lieber, Nigel Lovell, Prashant Mali, Susan S. Margulies, David F. Meaney, Brenda Ogle, Bernhard Palsson, Nicholas A. Peppas, Eric J. Perreault, Rick Rabbitt, Lori A. Setton, Lonnie D. Shea, Sanjeev G. Shroff, Kirk Shung, Andreas S. Tolias, Marjolein C.H. Van Der Meulen, Shyni Varghese, Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, John A. White, Raimond Winslow, Jianyi Zhang, Kun Zhang, Charles Zukoski, Michael I. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the past two decades Biomedical Engineering has emerged as a major discipline that bridges societal needs of human health care with the development of novel technologies. Every medical institution is now equipped at varying degrees of sophistication with the ability to monitor human health in both non-invasive and invasive modes. The multiple scales at which human physiology can be interrogated provide a profound perspective on health and disease. We are at the nexus of creating 'avatars' (herein defined as an extension of 'digital twins') of human patho/physiology to serve as paradigms for interrogation and potential intervention. Motivated by the emergence of these new capabilities, the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, the Departments of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and Bioengineering at University of California at San Diego sponsored an interdisciplinary workshop to define the grand challenges that face biomedical engineering and the mechanisms to address these challenges. The Workshop identified five grand challenges with cross-cutting themes and provided a roadmap for new technologies, identified new training needs, and defined the types of interdisciplinary teams needed for addressing these challenges. The themes presented in this paper include: 1) accumedicine through creation of avatars of cells, tissues, organs and whole human; 2) development of smart and responsive devices for human function augmentation; 3) exocortical technologies to understand brain function and treat neuropathologies; 4) the development of approaches to harness the human immune system for health and wellness; and 5) new strategies to engineer genomes and cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Open Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 IEEE.


  • Genome-engineering
  • artificial intelligence
  • biomanufacturing
  • biomaterials
  • bioreactors
  • bone
  • brain
  • brain-computer interfaces
  • cell therapy
  • digital twins
  • disease resistance
  • drug testing
  • gene therapy
  • heart
  • human function augmentation
  • immuno-engineering
  • lung
  • machine learning
  • models of disease
  • neuroimaging
  • neuromodulation
  • organ regeneration
  • organs-on-chip
  • patient on a chip
  • precision medicine
  • stem cells
  • synthetic biology
  • tissue engineering


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