Friday, December 1, 2023

Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,

Happy Friday!

As a private pilot, I have always been impressed with the fast adoption of technological advances by the aviation industry. For four decades I have personally benefited from the integration of technology into the cockpits of airplanes ranging from general aviation to transcontinental jets, to military gear in advanced global Air Force inventories. Old pilots are well-familiar with routine innovation integration in both ground-based and airborne avionics. In my small airplane, the panel is integrated where I am made aware of traffic, weather, communication, aviation and navigational situations all in one “intelligent” portal. I do not have to manipulate each piece of equipment independently unless I choose to do so. Aviation controls are well-integrated and engineered!

The only other area that is more important in operational safety is the delivery of health care. And I submit that, despite huge advances in medicine and its delivery, the entire domain of health care is, well, under engineered! In fact, when I was at Johns Hopkins University, I highlighted in an article that in Hopkins’ modern and most advanced hospitals, the ICUs contained lifesaving equipment that did not “talk” to one another! They were not integrated.

This begs the question of how do we engage engineering minds in human health care? Imagine, the next generation of artificial hearts, wearable kidneys and engineered, integrated and implemented eyes for the blind. Imagine what artificial intelligence can do to enable impossible-to-imagine artificial limbs. Imagine diagnostic systems that will pinpoint human illnesses and agent-based models that predict pandemics accurately enough to mobilize preventive measures well in advance of the spread. Imagine a world with no pandemics, all courtesy of an AI-enabled systems science and engineering approach to preventive health care.

Fortunately, engineers are increasingly attracted to medicine, biological sciences and research at the confluence areas of physical sciences and engineering with life sciences and medicine. In fact, the highest rate of passage for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) are engineering students and physical science majors. Furthermore, engineering graduates who pursue a medical degree are more likely to matriculate to medical school.

Recognizing the importance of an engineering approach in delivery of health care, multiple universities have recently established new engineering-based medical programs or created Engineering-to-Medicine pathways. Here at S&T, we are in final stages of unveiling our Escalator to Medicine program that is designed to facilitate the engineering to medicine transition for many of our exceptional health care minded engineering students. To this end, we are proud of our recently established programs in biomedical engineering and our new Ph.D. programs in bioengineering and biological sciences.

Our planned state-of-the-art Bioplex research and educational complex will attract talented faculty, scientists and students who will work collaboratively to address health care challenges at the intersection of engineering, biology and medicine.

Our Bioplex is the launchpad for our new frontier of “physicianeering,” a phrase coined by Texas A&M that truly fits the idea for our early assured admittance program to schools of medicine. It also represents a significant growth and diversification of our student body, ensures critical contributions to critical challenges facing health care, and highlights S&T’s motto: Solving for Tomorrow.



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Mohammad Dehghani, PhD
Chancellor | 573-341-4116

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