CU Bioengineering Program – developing innovations that change clinical practices

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The University of Colorado Bioengineering Program creates impact through innovation—and they’re just getting started

The University of Colorado Bioengineering Program is preparing to celebrate its 10th anniversary. From day one, the team was clear – as biomedical engineers, their expertise is at the intersection of engineering and its potential to solve critical health care challenges and improve quality of human life.

“We want to collaborate at every level—students, faculty, industry—to move beyond interesting ideas, to move beyond publishing papers and getting grants, to develop innovations that change clinical practice,” said Dr. Robin Shandas, Ph.D., Professor and Founding Chair of the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Colorado at Denver. “We’re constantly looking for how we can make impact. That’s a very important word for our department.”

When Dr. Shandas accepted his role and created the CU Bioengineering department, he insisted it be located on Fitzsimons Innovation Community, which fosters entrepreneurial collaboration within its campus and the surrounding Colorado biosciences community.

“In our field it’s always about collaboration and discussion because the field is just too complex for one person no matter how brilliant they are to move forward by themselves. We don’t want to just talk about our interest in working with entrepreneurs, start-up companies and industry to drive innovation. We’re doing it. Having a capacity to do that—surrounded by bioscience companies at all levels of operation—is integral in this kind of biosciences innovation,” notes Dr. Shandas.

The co-location of facilities also plays a key role in the ability to innovate and train students. There are opportunities for students, faculty and industry to come into an academic lab together. Face to face, they can discuss challenges and come to new understandings not possible on our separate islands. Co-location also presents opportunities for entrepreneurs to start companies in a very lean way by using current industry-university alliances and collaborations.

“CU Bioengineering will be moving into a new space in Bioscience 3 on the Fitzsimons Innovation Community, representing more than just an expansion of research but the opportunity to increase the educational and career opportunities for its biomedical engineering students,” shared April Giles, vice president of business development for Fitzsimons Innovation

Community. “It’s our goal at Fitzsimons to connect people and resources to foster innovation—now and, through the success of CU Bioengineering’s students, in the future.”

“I constantly hear from industry leadership about the need to expand the highly-educated, biomedical technology workforce to fuel Colorado’s growth in biotech. We are responding with additional educational programs which is why our new space is so vital,’ added Dr. Shandas. “I’ve also witnessed many of our students progress along their career trajectories here between Fitzsimons and Anschutz. As students, they get internships, which then result in jobs at those companies. It’s synergistic as we’re creating a talent pool for our neighboring companies and those organizations looking to join Colorado’s growing life sciences community as well.”

New ideas? New education programs? New businesses? It’s no wonder that Dr. Shandas says, “We’re just getting started.”

Learn more about the CU Bioengineering and the 75 additional companies in our dynamic life sciences community at www.fitzsimonsinnovation.com.