Ph.D. Student Handbook

Bioengineering History + Overview

The first Biomedical Engineering Program in the nation began in the mid 1920’s as a collaboration between engineers and health professionals at the University of Pennsylvania. The first Ph.D. in Bioengineering in the United States was awarded from Penn’s Bioengineering Graduate Group in 1953. The Department of Bioengineering was formally approved by the University in 1973. To date, over 450 individuals have received a Ph.D. from our program, including some of the most distinguished academic and industrial leaders in Bioengineering. Many of Penn’s graduates hold academic positions in Biomedical Engineering or related departments at Universities throughout the world, and have played a leading role in defining the field. Other graduates have entered the biomedical industry and have become the primary driving force behind one of the faster growing sectors of the economy in providing advanced biomedical products, which has saved lives and improved the quality of our healthcare system.

Today the Bioengineering department at Penn has 22 primary faculty, and more than 212 affiliated graduate group faculty who provide the core teaching and research environment for over 200 undergraduate and over 500 graduate students. The department has consistently been ranked as one of the best Bioengineering programs in the country for preparing students for careers in industry, medicine, academia, and other fields related to biomedical technology. The success of the program is due to the dedication of the faculty in conducting both excellent teaching and outstanding research.

Penn’s academic curriculum in Bioengineering provides a solid foundation in science and develops powerful methods for understanding basic physiological processes. Combining the resources of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering, School of Medicine, School of Arts and Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, School of Dental Medicine, School of Nursing, and the University Hospitals, the department is pioneering in a broad range of research areas in Bioengineering.