Mission and History


The primary mission of the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering is to educate students to understand the human body as an integrated system through quantitative engineering analysis and to use that understanding to design better therapeutic strategies, devices, and diagnostics. A mission of nearly equal importance is to serve society by conducting research that develops quantitative linkages across scales in the human body and uses that development to build new tools to improve human health.


The specific goals for the School include:

  • Develop BME at Cornell and nationally as an intellectual discipline that integrates engineering principles and biology in the context of human health
  • Achieve national recognition of Cornell BME as one of the best programs in the nation
  • Combine existing faculty strengths in BME, while adding new faculty that bring new strengths to the department and university
  • Work with engineering departments to enhance the integration of biology into engineering
  • Work with life science departments to enhance integration of engineering principles into the study of biology
  • Work with the Weill Cornell Medical College and Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine to translate advances in basic biology into clinically useful devices and therapies


The Meinig School will bridge biology, medicine, and engineering and be responsible for:

  • Developing and delivering undergraduate and graduate curricula in biomedical engineering
  • Collaborate and coordinate with other programs to facilitate the transfer of life science concepts into engineering and engineering approaches into the life sciences; catalyze interactions between biologists, physical scientists, and engineers to benefit medicine and human health
  • Take leadership within the Cornell bioengineering community on matters relating life sciences and human health and medicine
  • Promote and enhance the visibility of the BME community to attract faculty, students, and research support
  • Collaborate with the Weill Cornell Medical College and the Hospital for Special Surgery through joint offerings for students, joint research, and joint faculty appointments
  • Work with the College of Veterinary Medicine to combine appropriate animal models and biomedical engineering techniques to improve both human and animal health

Vision Statement

To develop a quantitative understanding of the human body across scales

Our research and educational missions are guided by a vision of understanding the human body as an integrated system. The goal is to be able to predict how changes at the molecular level relate to the cellular, tissue/organ, and whole body level responses. These relationships across length and time scales must be quantitative and explicit.

A realization of this vision will enable the rational design of therapeutic strategies and devices and enhance our ability to interpret diagnostic information. This vision leads BME to address specific Grand Challenges of Medicine:

  • How do we discover and develop advanced health diagnostic tools to detect and analyze health problems earlier, cheaper, and more accurately? Examples include vascular disease, cancer, infectious agents, and osteoporosis.
  • Can we replace and regenerate organs and tissues to treat disease and injury? Examples include arthritis, heart disease, kidney failure, and spinal cord injuries.
  • How do we design and deliver drugs to address major illnesses? Examples include cancer, Alzheimer, circulatory problems, and neurological disorders.


History at Cornell

The school of biomedical engineering at Cornell evolved from a 45-year history of bioengineering research and education at the University. A formal program in bioengineering was established in 1994 with a Special Opportunity Award from the Whitaker Foundation. The Graduate Field of Biomedical Engineering, which administers the graduate degree programs, was approved by New York State in 1997. A Department of Biomedical Engineering was established in 2004, and the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering was instituted in 2015.