January message from Dean Balakrishnan

It’s hard to believe that this time last year, we were just starting to hear news of a novel virus that emerged half a world away. Little did we know then what an impact the COVID-19 virus would have on our lives in the months to come.

Now, nearly a year since the pandemic changed our lives, we can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel with the recent approvals of multiple vaccines to combat the virus—vaccines that would not have been possible without years of research, trial and error and collaboration among the scientific community.

It is at times like this that I feel particularly proud and fortunate to be a part of a university that places such a high priority on excellence in education, research and collaboration.

Case Western Reserve University has always maintained a legacy of strong research, and that legacy continues in the groundbreaking work taking place on a daily basis at the Case School of Engineering. Just last month, the Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership (CCTRP), a collaboration between Case Western Reserve and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, announced more than $1.1 million in funding and other support for six biomedical technologies from CWRU. Led by Robert Kirsch, chairman of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Steve Fening, Coulter Program Director, the CCTRP fosters collaborations among clinicians and engineers on translational research projects with the potential to impact patient care.

The projects selected for funding have the potential to impact the way we treat cancer, advance point-of-care technology for use in rapid assessments of trauma, provide a drug-free approach to treating chronic pain and even a longer-lasting, safer sunscreen. Each of the projects are led by research teams from Case School of Engineering, the CWRU School of Medicine and local hospitals—collaborating to advance products from the laboratory to the marketplace, where they can be available to improve the lives of patients around the world.

The spirit of innovative and collaborative research extends to our students as well. Experiential learning has always been at the core of our curriculum, but the pandemic required us to look for new ways to ensure our students were able to maintain that type of learning in a remote environment. The Biomedical Engineering Alliance responded by creating a Virtual Summer Internship. The 10-week program drew participation from approximately 500 engineering undergrads from top universities around the world, and featured a small group-based design challenge to develop, design and test a solution to address the need for enhanced use of personal protective equipment—particularly on college campuses—to help mitigate the coronavirus pandemic. Not only that, the program was also successful in introducing a large group of promising students to the Case School of Engineering and our graduate programs.

As always, thank you for your continued support of the Case School of Engineering. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions or feedback at CSEUpdates@case.edu.

Venkataramanan “Ragu” Balakrishnan
Charles H. Phipps Dean, Case School of Engineering