Resources for Current Students

Nine students gather around two tables with plates of food and beverages. They are smiling and gesturing to the camera. Overpasses and bridges are visible through large glass windows in the background.
Students in OHSU’s chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society organize casual get-togethers, networking events and outings.

Portland, OHSU and the Department of Biomedical Engineering have much to offer you as a student in our Ph.D. program. Take advantage of robust university services, department social gatherings and access to the majestic outdoors, all while completing a world-class education. 

As you work toward graduation, here are some resources to help you along the way :

Join the student chapter of BMES

The OHSU student chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) builds community among graduate students and provides opportunities for professional development. The group hosts social events such as board game night and rock climbing, educational workshops, professional networking events and a mentorship program. 

Visit the BMES Student Chapter, OHSU online and follow @ohsu_bmes on Instagram.

Register for classes

To earn your Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, you will complete 135 total credits, including 54 credits of dissertation research. Four elective courses are required. 

In addition to the elective courses offered within biomedical engineering, you have access to OHSU graduate courses in other departments as well as courses at Portland State University (PSU).

Core BME courses

BME 605 Readings in Biomedical Engineering 
This course is designed to teach critical evaluation of information in the field of biomedical engineering. Students will read articles and papers on timely topics related to the student’s area of interest. Students are required to present summaries of the readings and to lead class discussions. (Term offered: Fall)

BME 607 Biomedical Engineering Seminars
All students are required to enroll in and attend BME 607 Biomedical Engineering Seminars for at least 6 terms throughout their graduate tenure; continued attendance every term is expected. This seminar course will feature presentations and discussions on topics in biomedical engineering that exemplify the wide range of applications of biomedical engineering to science and medicine.

The goals are to provide the students with an overview of the diverse opportunities for research and application, to foster development of critical analysis and thinking, and to stimulate creative problem solving and research planning. (Term offered: All)

BME 608 Grant Writing and Qualifier Preparation
Students will be instructed in the preparation of a 6-page National Research Service Award (NRSA)-style grant proposal per the BME Program Guidelines for submission to their qualifying exam committee. The topic of the proposal will be determined by each student. In addition to didactic instruction on grant writing skills, the student will serve as reviewers for their fellow students' proposals. (Term offered: Fall/Spring)

BMSC 620 Introduction to Biostatistics for the Basic Sciences
This course is designed for students enrolled in basic science graduate programs to introduce biostatistics concepts and analysis methods that are required to conduct research in these fields. The course is a combination of lectures, statistical, computing tutorial sessions and journal clubs. Some homework/projects will require the use of a statistical software package. (Term offered: Winter)

MGRD 650 The Practice of Ethics of Science
This course is designed to provide students in biomedical research with survival skills and an understanding of ethical conduct. Topics covered include: being a trainee, scientific integrity and misconduct, scientific publication, oral presentations, lab safety, use of laboratory animals, human subjects research and research funding. Ethical dilemmas and issues are discussed in context of the practice of science. (Term offered: Fall) 

BMI 631 Probability & Statistical Inference for Scientists and Engineers
This course will introduce fundamental concepts underlying statistical data display, analysis, inference and statistical decision making. The topics include presentation and description of data, basic concepts of probability, Bayes' theorem, discrete and continuous probability distributions, estimation, sampling distributions, classical tests of hypotheses on means, variances and proportions, maximum likelihood estimation, Bayesian inference and estimation, linear models, examples of nonlinear models and introduction to simple experimental designs.

One of the key notions underlying this course is the role of mathematical modeling in science and engineering with a particular focus on the need for an understanding of variability and uncertainty. Examples are chosen from a wide range of engineering, clinical and social domains. (Term offered: Fall)

Elective BME courses

BME 620 Science Writing for Journals
This course breaks down the components of scientific writing to include the following topics:

  1. Starting strategies-Deciding on a journal and the review process
  2. Abstract construction
  3. Introduction-Communicating significance and rationale
  4. Methods-Data recording and transparency
  5. Figure making-Tools and guidelines
  6. Communication of results
  7. Discussion summaries, limitations and the bigger picture
  8. Submission and response to reviewers
  9. Review articles, letters, short communications and conference abstracts
  10. Navigating collaborations and mentorship

(Term offered: Winter)

BME 640 Fluid Mechanics and Biotransport
This course introduces basic concepts of fluid mechanics and convective mass transport. It will start with a derivation of mass, momentum and energy conservation equations for fluid flows. The importance of non-dimensional parameters such as Reynolds number and the Womersley parameter will be extensively discussed, and non-dimensional equations will be derived.

Other topics to be covered include Bernoulli’s equation, low and high Reynolds number flows, oscillatory flows, interactions of fluid flows with tissue and boundary layers. The final part of the course will cover the derivation and use of mass transport equations in fluid flows. (Term offered: varies)

BME 645 Biocompatibility: Host - Implant Interactions
This course provides the student with a firm understanding of how the body reacts to implanted biomaterials at the cell, tissue, organ and systemic levels. In addition, specific characteristics that hinder or improve the biocompatibility of materials will be addressed.

The concepts of biocompatibility with regards to biomaterials in experimental and clinical situations are presented. The influences of the molecular interactions between materials with different bulk and/or surface chemistry will be discussed. Issues related to the consequences of degradation products, inflammation and infection are discussed at the cellular and molecular level. Techniques to characterize biomaterials in vitro, as well as the in vivo / ex vivo analysis of implanted and explanted biomaterials are presented. (Term offered: varies)

BME 669 The Physics of Medical Imaging
This course will provide a comprehensive introduction to all major aspects of standard medical imaging systems used in the clinic today. Topics will include radiation, radiation-interaction with matter, dosimetry, radiation damage and risk, x-ray imaging, computed tomography, image reconstruction and analysis nuclear medicine, MRI, ultrasound and imaging applications. (Term offered: varies)

BME 673 Cancer Systems Biology
Cancer systems biology is an integrative approach to understanding cancer as a complex biological system that is made up of more than the sum of its parts. Interactions between components are a primary focus, as is the behavior of subsystems made up of several components.

This course is designed to provide an understanding of the rationale and approaches used in cancer systems biology. The class will transition through discussions of the biological basis for cancer, experimental methods, experimental model systems, large-scale data resources, analytical methods, and will provide practical experience with analyzing data from a systems perspective. (Term offered: varies)

BME 674 Foundations of Measurement Science
This course is intended for first- and second-year graduate students in the BME program or quantitative students in other programs who are interested in quantitative biosystems approaches to biomedical research and seek a deeper understanding of the technologies used in their research.

The course will examine the physical principles underlying the instrument design and function and discuss analysis of their output and their practical use in actual research settings. (Term offered: Fall)

BME 675 Analysis in Quantitative Bioscience
This introductory computational biology course is geared toward students comfortable with quantitative methods, but extensive programming experience is not necessary. The course introduces and employs python notebooks for analyses of genomic and related “big” biological data.

Key statistical concepts are introduced and used throughout the course in the discussion of algorithms for the analysis and simulation of biological data. Topics covered typically include sequence alignments, analysis of RNA sequence data, pathway analysis, Markov modeling and machine learning. (Term offered: Fall)

BME 680 (EE682 cross-listed) Signals and Linear Systems
This course will teach students the core principals of digital signal processing. We will survey a variety of topics in class lecture/discussion based on assigned readings while exploring specific topics/applications in depth through lab assignments and a final project.

Specifically, we will cover the core topic areas in digital signal processing including an overview of discrete-time signals and systems, the discrete-time Fourier transform, the z-Transform and transform analysis, the discrete Fourier Series, the discrete Fourier transform, circular convolution, network structures for FIR systems, design of IIR and FIR filters, multi-rate processing, and linear prediction. If time permits, we will also provide an introductory lecture on the Kalman filter and the extended Kalman filter. (Term offered: varies)

BME 683 Physiologic Modeling and Model Predictive Control
This course will teach students the core principals of modeling of physiologic processes and then teach how to use these models within a model-predictive control configuration. Models of physiology can be used to improve our understanding of a system and for educational purposes and as a means to support clinical processes. Model predictive control (MPC) is a method for controlling systems based on prior knowledge about the process being controlled and using a horizon of predicted responses of the process to determine optimal input control parameters. This class will introduce modeling of physiologic processes. (Term offered: varies)

BME 690 Topics in Nanomedicine
Nanomedicine involves the development and application of materials and devices to study biological processes and to treat disease at the level of single molecules and atoms. Through the study and treatment of disease at the molecular cell level, this exciting new field of nanotechnology and medicine is offering unique capabilities in disease diagnosis and management.

This course offers a survey of timely concepts in the rapidly emerging nanomedicine. We will introduce basic principles underlying nanomedicine and review how nanomedicine is redefining clinical research in areas such as diagnostic imaging agents, nanomaterial-based drug delivery, and nanoscale proteomics. Specific attention will be directed to disease processes including: cancer, kidney and neurodegenerative diseases. (Term offered: varies)

Take the qualifying exam

You will be eligible to take your qualifying exam when you have successfully completed all coursework required in the first two years of the BME curriculum. Students must pass the exam by their 12th term. Once you pass, you will officially be a Ph.D. candidate and can work toward your dissertation.

  • Enroll in BME 608 Grant Writing and Qualifier Preparation. 
  • Department administration will schedule your exam and appoint a committee to conduct it. 
  • Follow the National Research Service Award guidelines for the written portion of your exam. 
  • Prepare a 20- to 30-minute presentation for the oral portion and be ready to answer committee questions. 
  • Consult the BME Program Guidelines for detailed instructions. 

Form your Dissertation Advisory Committee

You will select the faculty members who guide you through your dissertation research. Your committee should have at least four members from different disciplines: your mentor and three other faculty members. One will serve as committee chair.

Consult the School of Medicine Graduate Studies website for in-depth guidelines you will need to follow in forming your committee.

Prepare for your dissertation and defense

Your dissertation is a written description of your research. It demonstrates your ability to plan and execute original research, and must be a distinct contribution to scientific knowledge. 

Guidelines for preparing your dissertation 

When you are close to completing your research, start to plan your dissertation defense, also called an oral exam. Form an Oral Exam Committee (OEC) with at least four members of the graduate faculty who have primary appointments in at least two different departments or institutes. 

The oral exam must be open to the public. You’ll present your dissertation and take questions from the public before answering questions from your committee members. 

Request for Oral Examination (four weeks prior to exam date)

Review your graduation timeline

  • One term prior to completing your degree requirements, log in to Student Self-Service and select “Apply to Graduate.” (Instructions available here.)
  • Four weeks before your scheduled defense date, submit your Request for Oral Examination.
  • Two weeks prior to your oral exam, distribute a copy of your dissertation to your Oral Exam Committee.
  • Prior to the end of your six-month correction period, submit your final dissertation electronically to the OHSU Library for publication.
  • After completing your degree, fill out the required Survey of Earned Doctorates online.
  • Before leaving OHSU, submit an Exit Contact Information form. 

Degrees are awarded at the end of each term when all academic requirements are met. OHSU commencement is held at the beginning of June for all students who graduated in that academic year.

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