Researchers Bullish on Biomedical Electronics
Field Could Advance Medical Imaging, Therapeutic Devices and More
Dozens of leading biomedical electronics experts convened at UT Dallas recently to discuss the future of the field and lay the groundwork for a nationwide call for proposals for up to $3 million in available research awards in the discipline.
The upcoming call for proposals will be for the second round of research grants from the Texas Analog Center of Excellence, or TxACE, which is based at UT Dallas.
Biomedical applications of electrical engineering could constitute the next big wave in electronics development and commercialization, comparable to the rise of personal computers in the 1980s and cell phones in the 1990s, said Charles Sodini, the Clarence J. Lebel Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who spoke at the workshop.
Like those technologies, innovative biomedical applications could appear suddenly — following years of evolution in labs — and quickly become a significant industry of their own.
TxACE is a natural catalyst for such work, according to the center’s director, Kenneth K. O, because analog technology is the essential interface enabling the power, speed and miniaturization of modern digital microelectronics to be brought to bear on an array of medical issues, including:
• Medical imaging.
• Patient monitoring.
• Affordable and quick laboratory analyses.
• Bio-sensing, including both wearable and implanted devices.
• New therapeutic devices.
“This is exciting stuff,” said Shekar Rao, worldwide manager of medical electronics solutions at Texas Instruments. “Innovation in medical electronics is just taking off, and this workshop helped us identify the areas we should be focusing on in biomedical electronics.”
Although there are technological problems that remain to be solved before biomedical electronics become widespread, that doesn’t bother Mark Cronjaeger, Rao’s colleague in charge of university programs for TI’s Medical Business Unit.
“It’s more fun to work on complex problems,” he noted.
Charles Sodini of MIT spoke at the analog workshop on biomedical electronics held recently on campus.
Energy and Power Analog Circuit Challenges Workshop
The next TxACE workshop will focus on energy and power issues — including lighting, portable energy and energy harvesting — paving the way for a nationwide call for research proposals in October.