For more than half a century, since researchers at Rice University helped design the world’s first artificial heart, Rice engineers have worked in the vanguard of human health and medicine. In V2C2 (Vision for the Second Century, Second Decade), the university announced the Rice Engineering Medicine Initiative and its commitment to become “an international leader in the development and translation of groundbreaking engineering technologies for personalized medical applications, especially those that enable the effective and efficient prevention, treatment and management of diseases.”
Much of this work is centered at the BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC), the hub for medical research at Rice, which adjoins the Texas Medical Center, the largest in the world. That includes NEST360°, an international team of engineers, doctors and global health experts, who won $15 million through the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition and continue to work at ending preventable newborn deaths in Africa. Also at the BRC, Rice is making plans to be at the forefront of neuroengineering, a new field that combines neuroscience and engineering to help understand, repair, and in some cases, re-engineer the human nervous system. The possibilities of this emerging discipline are extraordinary, with the potential to solve medical problems that once seemed impossible.