AIMBE President’s Newsletter by Christine Schmidt, Ph.D.

Dear AIMBE Fellows and Colleagues:

My tenure as President comes at a time when it has never been more critical for AIMBE’s engagement on public policy efforts to advance the field. You may have been following in the news and reading in AIMBE’s FLASH newsletter that NIH and NSF may see budget increases. While this is welcomed news (after years of funding that has diminished the agency’s buying power), it’s not time to settle-in comfortably.

Your responsibility as a scientist, researcher, and AIMBE Fellow is to show and tell your lawmakers why your work matters. Absent your voice, the silence is deafening to Congress. Policymakers will not continue to go to bat for federal science funding if they do not meet with you, visit your labs, and receive your letters about the importance of federal funding. This is beyond politics; it’s your due-diligence to inform the public and your lawmakers—who funds your research—about how your work supports advances in health care and outcomes for patients.

In this mid-term election season, it is imperative that you understand how your local candidates stand on federal initiatives to strengthen science and innovation. Candidates turn into lawmakers and lawmakers decide if and when to support science agencies that fund your work. Now is the time to ask future lawmakers how they would respond to pressing science, medicine, and engineering issues facing our community before election day. AIMBE has developed a resource to help you ask the right questions (either by email or in-person at campaign events).

Please share with me how you have connected with your lawmakers or candidates lately. In my next letter to you, I will be sharing some of these stories about how AIMBE Fellows are getting engaged and making a difference.

I look forward to continuing to update you on our progress in advancing medical and biological engineering. Learn more about what AIMBE is doing to support this work, by clicking here.

Sincerely,

Christine Schmidt

Christine E. Schmidt, Ph.D.
AIMBE President
Cschmidt@aimbe.org

Dear AIMBE Fellows,

I am delighted to assume the role of President of AIMBE for the next two years! It was nice to meet our new Fellows recently in Washington DC – congratulations!

AIMBE Fellows represent the top 2% of engineers, scientists and physicians in the field of medical and biological engineering and thus play a central role – and have the responsibility – to educate the public, government, industry and all stakeholders about the lives that can be improved and the jobs that can be created. It is our duty, particularly considering the given political climate, to be proactive in educating and advocating, ensuring that the United States is competitive in the bioengineering field, both in terms of advanced research but also in terms of clinical translation and commercialization.

My goals as President are to:

  • enhance visibility of AIMBE as the key honorific and advocacy organization for medical and biological engineering;
  • create broader outreach and pathways for the younger generation to be engaged in our mission;
  • increase engagement of our Fellows – particularly those at the highest level of recognition in their fields (e.g., NAE members);
  • promote diversity in our Fellows and programming; and
  • increase philanthropy and sponsorships to ensure AIMBE’s sustained financial strength.

Looking to these goals, we have already re-activated AIMBE on social media as a means to engage and educate the public (follow AIMBE on Twitter at @aimbe!). We encourage you to tag AIMBE on Twitter when you have exciting research or translational activities to report, or if you engage in public education or advocacy for medical and biological engineering.

We are taking major efforts to build stronger partnerships with departments and their students by engagement through the BME Council of Chairs. AIMBE’s Executive Director, Milan Yager, has made 15 visits to departments, and has 9 more planned for the fall. The goal is to energize Fellows, young faculty, and students at institutions to all be proactive in AIMBE’s mission of advocating for the support of research. In my own personal experience, our students at UF have formed the Student Association for the Support of Science (SASS). SASS members have participated in AIMBE’s science policy institute as well as the AAAS CASE workshop where they made congressional visits in DC and have organized a lab tour at UF for our congressional representative highlighting our research and innovation!

Stronger Fellow engagement is critical to AIMBE’s success! Please, stay engaged through attendance at our annual meeting in the spring, nomination of new fellows, and participation in advocacy (congressional visits are easy and fun!).

Diversity is core to excellence, and a topic close to my heart. With our leadership team at AIMBE, I will advocate for higher representation of women and underrepresented minorities in our meeting program and Fellows class. Personally, I strongly encourage you to consider nominating a female or URM candidate in August!

Finally, financial sustainability is critical for any organization. AIMBE is a small, honorific society and typically, the expenses (staff, advocacy programs, annual meeting costs) just balance with our income (Fellows dues, meeting registration). To increase our programming and impact, we need to find ways to increase revenue. Please consider financially donating to AIMBE’s cause. In addition, we plan to offer various naming and sponsorship opportunities in the near future – we look forward to your help!

Again, AIMBE Fellows (YOU!) lay a foundation to advocate for public policy issues related to improving lives through medical and biological engineering. It’s not about each of us individually – it’s about the bigger picture – how we can effectively ensure that research is funded and then able to be translated for impact on our community. If you want to be engaged and are not sure how to start – contact me, Milan Yager or Sarah Mandell!

Thank you for your active engagement, and I look forward to hearing how you are “Standing Up for Science”! And, congratulations again to our new Fellows!

Christine E. Schmidt
AIMBE President
Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Florida

AIMBE Contact Information:

Christine Schmidt, President, schmidt@bme.ufl.edu
Milan Yager, Executive Director, myager@aimbe.org
Sarah Mandell, Director of Public Policy and Strategic Partnerships, smandell@aimbe.org
Charlie Kim, Director of Member Services, ckim@aimbe.org

About Dr. Schmidt:

Christine E. Schmidt, Ph.D., Pruitt Family Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Florida, has been named President of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). Schmidt was inducted as an AIMBE Fellow in 2009 and previously served as Chair of the College of Fellows for 2015-2016.

Members of AIMBE’s College Fellows are nominated each year by their peers and represent the top 2% of the medical and biological engineering community. Since AIMBE’s inception, over 2,000 esteemed individuals have been inducted. AIMBE’s College consists of clinicians, industry professionals, academics and scientists, who have distinguished themselves through their contributions in research, industrial practice and/or education. Fundamental to their achievements is the common goal of embracing innovation to improve the healthcare and safety of society.

Schmidt earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. She also earned her doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She conducted postdoctoral research at MIT as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, joining the University of Texas at Austin Chemical Engineering faculty. Schmidt has served as Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Florida since 2012.

Schmidt is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), and a Fellow of Biomaterials Science and Engineering (FBSE) of the International Union of Societies of Biomaterials Science and Engineering.

Her research focuses on engineering novel materials and therapeutic systems to stimulate damaged peripheral and spinal neurons to regenerate. Taking a unique approach to this problem, she uses electrically conducting polymers and natural-based materials (e.g., hyaluronic acid-based biomaterials, decellularized tissues) to create therapies that can electrically, chemically, biologically and mechanically trigger neurons, at both the macroscopic and nanometer-scales.

To learn more about Dr. Schmidt’s work, featured in the news, click here