NIH launches intramural bioengineering center

Jan. 30, 2023

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) has established the Center for Biomedical Engineering Technology Acceleration (BETA Center), a new intramural research program to solve a range of medicine’s most pressing problems. The BETA Center will serve the wider NIH intramural research program as a biotechnology resource and catalyst for NIH research discoveries.

The center will incorporate a focused engineering approach to accelerate the development, validation and dissemination of cutting-edge technologies. Areas of emphasis will include biomedical imaging, biosensing, engineered and synthetic biology, nanomaterials and biomaterials, artificial intelligence, modeling, computation and informatics. A unique feature of the center will be its ability to rapidly assemble expert teams for purpose-driven technology development to address urgent national and global health needs.

“The BETA Center will be a catalyst for innovation and collaboration,” said NIBIB Director Bruce J. Tromberg, Ph.D. “Engineering and technology development are central to everything that NIH does. New tech drives new biomedical discoveries, and new discoveries are transformed into cutting-edge methods, devices and knowledge that can be widely disseminated.”

A fundamental objective of the BETA Center is to expand diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) at NIBIB, building on the inherent interdisciplinary nature of biomedical engineering.

“We are all so excited about this intramural center dedicated to applying engineering principles to biomedical discovery and therapeutics,” said NIH Deputy Director for Intramural Research Nina F. Schor, M.D., Ph.D. “The BETA Center's emphasis on bringing diverse talent together to solve complex systems and problems will maximize its impact and success.”

Following a national search, Manu Platt, Ph.D. has been selected as the first director of the new center. Dr. Platt has also been appointed NIBIB associate director for Scientific Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. As the BETA Center director, Platt will work to expand opportunities for biomedical engineering training and professional growth, including recruiting individuals from diverse backgrounds.  Platt is expected to join NIBIB on Feb. 27, 2023.

Dr. Platt joins NIH from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, Atlanta, where his lab has led the development of new approaches to addressing health needs in low resource settings. His research has spanned from technology development for cardiovascular and sickle cell disease, to personalized and predictive medicine for breast cancer and HIV. In addition to his ample experience as a bioengineer and educator, Dr. Platt is a nationally recognized leader in diversifying scientific workforces.

“Increasing collaboration within the NIH bioengineering community is key to translating promising technologies into better health for patients,” said Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., director of NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and chair of the BETA Director search committee. “We look forward to joining forces with Dr. Platt and the BETA Center to address urgent national and global healthcare needs.”

NIH release