Fourth AUB Biomedical Engineering Winter School
March 01-02, 2018, College Hall, Auditorium B1

The Joint FEA/FM Biomedical Engineering Program and the Center for Advanced Mathematical Sciences (CAMS) at AUB cordially invite you to the Fourth AUB Biomedical Engineering Winter School. The event will take place over two days and will feature five international distinguished speakers giving lectures on emerging topics in Biomedical Engineering. The lectures will highlight the importance of mathematical and computational modeling in biomedical research at the molecular and physiological levels with medical and clinical applications. Each lecture will be divided into two parts: the first part will cover basics and fundamentals, whereas the second part will cover state-of-the-art research findings and open research directions. The School is technically endorsed by the IEEE EMBS Lebanon Chapter and supported by the AUB Biomedical Engineering Student Society.

Dr. Sliman Bensmaia

Professor of Neuroscience and Neuroprosthetics, Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, University of Chicago - USA

Biological and Bionic Hands: Natural Neural Coding and Artificial Perception

Our ability to manipulate objects dexterously relies fundamentally on sensory signals originating from the hand. To restore motor function with upper-limb neuroprostheses requires that somatosensory feedback be provided to the tetraplegic patient or amputee. Given the complexity of state-of-the-art prosthetic limbs, and thus the huge state-space they can traverse, it is desirable to minimize the need of the patient to learn associations between events impinging upon the limb and arbitrary sensations. With this in mind, we seek to develop approaches to intuitively convey sensory information that is critical for object manipulation – information about contact location, pressure, and timing – through intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) of primary somatosensory cortex (S1). To this end, we first explore how this information is naturally encoded in the cortex of (intact) non-human primates (Rhesus macaques). In stimulation experiments, we then show that we can elicit percepts that are projected to a specific localized patch of skin by stimulating neurons with corresponding receptive fields. Similarly, information about contact pressure is conveyed by invoking the natural neural code for pressure, which entails not only increasing the activation of local neurons but also recruiting adjacent neurons to signal an increase in pressure. In a real-time application, we demonstrate that animals can perform a pressure discrimination task equally well whether mechanical stimuli are delivered to their native fingers or to a prosthetic one. Finally, we propose that the timing of contact events can be signaled through phasic ICMS at the onset and offset of object contact that mimics the ubiquitous on and off responses observed in S1 to complement slowly-varying pressure-related feedback. We anticipate that the proposed biomimetic feedback will considerably increase the dexterity and embodiment of upper-limb neuroprostheses and will constitute an important step in restoring touch to individuals who have lost it.

Sliman Bensmaia received a B.A. in Cognitive Science from the University of Virginia in 1995, and a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in 2003, under the tutelage of Dr. Mark Hollins. He then joined the laboratory of Dr. Kenneth Johnson, at the Johns Hopkins University Krieger Mind/Brain Institute, as a postdoctoral fellow. In 2009, Dr. Bensmaia joined the faculty in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago, where he is also a member of the Committees on Neurobiology and on Computational Neuroscience. Bensmaia is a leading expert on the neural basis of somatosensation in human and non-human primates, which his laboratory investigates by combining psychophysics, neurophysiology, and computational modeling. Bensmaia also seeks to apply insights from basic science to develop approaches to convey sensory feedback in upper-limb neuroprostheses.

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Dr. Alicia El Haj

Professor of Cell Engineering, Institute for Science & Technology in Medicine, Keele University - UK

Advances in Engineering Cells and Tissues for the Clinic

Growing tissues outside or inside the human body has been an aspiration for over two decades in the regenerative medicine field. Engineering and building tissue complexity is a multidisciplinary challenge which covers the breadth of bioscience, engineering, materials and maths. A key driver for this field is the potential in multiple clinical areas from surgery, trauma, oncology and multiple diseases. Alongside the development of cell therapies for the clinic is the need for better in vitro 3D models which can be used in drug development and pharmaceutical screening. Although the field has progressed significantly, there remain many unanswered questions and unmet technological advances which must be addressed to enable us to control cell behaviour; examples include engineering complex stem cell environments and designing novel technologies which can control cell activation, migration and growth. Mathematical modelling our in vitro 3D tissue constructs can assist us to design more physiologically relevant approaches. In this presentation, I will outline some of the advances in cell engineering and how we work across multidisciplinary teams to progress these advances towards the clinic.

Dr. Alicia El Haj is the founding Director of the Institute of Science & Technology in Medicine at Keele University Medical School. She is a leading figure in Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine and has been involved in bringing together interdisciplinary groups within biomedicine, physical sciences and engineering interested in aspects of cell and tissue engineering and regenerative medicine to move innovative new cell based therapies to the clinic. She has published over a 200 publications in novel enabling technologies such as bioreactors, biomaterials and imaging systems for the delivery of cell therapy and tissue engineering approaches with funding from EPSRC, MRC, BBSRC, AR UK and EU Framework in the UK. ISTM has been progressing cell therapies into routine clinical use in orthopaedics for the past 10 years working with consultant orthopaedic surgeons. She is also Director of a spin out company MICA Biosystems , Ltd involved in translating her patents into clinical use. She is Research Director of an EPSRC Doctoral Training Centre in Regenerative Medicine, Deputy Director of the MRC UKRMP Regen Med Hub and has been a co-director of the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing Centre in Regenerative Medicine as well as a partner in multiple EU programmes. Prof. El Haj is president of the UK Bioengineering Society and ex-Chair of the European Council for the Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS).She was awarded with a Royal Society Merit Award in 2014 and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK. In March 2015, she was awarded the MRC Suffrage Award for her role in leading women in STEM.

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Dr. Lynne Bilston

Professor of Biomechanical Engineering, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW - Australia

Advances in Imaging and Image-Based Computational Modelling in Biomechanics

Computational biomechanics models are widely used for a broad range of applications in engineering and medicine. Increasingly, there is a focus on the use of subject-specific models that can simulate the individual patient’s anatomy and physiology. Such advanced models require both sophisticated modelling approaches that can represent the individual’s anatomy, which are typically based on modern medical imaging, and also accurate tissue mechanical properties, kinematics and boundary and loading conditions. Validation of these models is a particular challenge. This talk will outline the cutting edge of computational biomechanics models, and the existing and emerging imaging techniques that underpin them.

Dr. Lynne Bilston is a biomedical engineer whose research focuses on how mechanical forces are involved in physiological and pathophysiological processes in the body. Her research encompasses injury biomechanics, neural and other soft tissue biomechanics, and the development of novel imaging methods for making biomechanical measurements in vivo. She has a PhD in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania and is a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia senior research fellow. She is a Senior Principal Research Fellow at Neuroscience Research Australia, and is a conjoint Professor at the University of New South Wales.

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Dr. Nicolas Chbat

Adjunct Professor of Engineering and Medicine, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University - USA

Parameter Estimation: Core of Personalized Medicine

A dawn has come for advanced mathematical and engineering methodologies to enter the field of medicine. The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is a busy environment where patients are critically ill. As a result, diagnostic (Dx) and therapeutic (Tx) decisions are often made under duress – affecting outcome. Medical professionals, scientists and engineers are trying to improve the quality of Dx and Tx decisions in the ICU. “Evidence-based medicine” is a current trend in the field, and it entails basing clinical decisions for a patient on previously seen “similar” patients. In addition, Clinical Guidelines are ubiquitously used. These approaches are considered the current state-of-art in Medicine. A next level of rigor in improving Dx and Tx is using Data Mining and Machine Learning (Artificial Intelligence). However, all of the aforementioned approaches are based on populations, and hence may not work well for the individual patient. A higher level of rigor in Dx and Tx is using a mathematical description of the physiology/disease and then individualizing that model in real-time to emulate the individual patient at hand. This defines our approach to Personalized Medicine. Once a mathematical model is fine-tuned to the patient (via parameter estimation), then detection and forecasting of diseases, what-if scenarios, and optimal control of life-sustaining machines, suddenly, become achievable goals. We are taking strides toward improving ICU clinical decisions and will show a few examples.

Prof. Nicolas Chbat has spent 22 years in the Research & Development industry. He spent 7 years at General Electric Global Research Center (GE GRC), 4 years at the Mayo Cinic, and 11 years at Philips Research N. A. where he established the Cardiopulmonary Laboratory leading efforts in advanced engineering applications to critical care medicine. Dr. Chbat holds 50+ issued and filed patents and invention disclosures, 40+ publications, and one book. Dr. Chbat is the founder and CEO of Quadrus Technologies, Inc., developing software products for critical care medicine using modeling, estimation, controls, and data mining. He is also the Co-Director of the Center of Excellence for Critical Care Innovation at the New York Presbyterian hospital / Columbia University Medical Center. In 2000, he won the Dushman Award, GE GRC’s Highest Technical Team Achievement Award. In 2005 he won the Best Teacher of the Year Award at the Mayo Graduate School. In 2013, he was the recipient of the 2013 Philips Research Top Five Innovation Award, as well as the 2013 IEEE EMBS Technical Achievement Award. He was awarded 3 governmental grants (NIH and CMS) totaling more than $17M in 2010-2012. Dr. Chbat received his PhD in 1995 in Control Systems Engineering at Columbia University, where he is currently Adjunct Professor of Engineering and Medicine.

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Dr. Jesper Tegner

Professor in Bioscience and Computer Science, Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division, KAUST - Saudi Arabia

Yin and Yang - Computational Mathematics & Living Systems

Eugene Wigner reflected upon the “unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences” in his classical essay from 1960. Numerous investigators of physics have duly recognized this mysterious fact since then. Yet, to capture the workings of living systems using mathematics has been challenging. Here I will discuss examples of how computational mathematics not only has been used to this end, but also how mathematics could potentially be informed by an analysis of living systems. The examples include forward mathematical modeling and simulation, inverse problems, network and graph analysis, machine learning, and algorithmic information theory. I conclude that to comprehend living systems we may need to consider new optimization or minimization schemes.

Dr. Jesper Tegner is a professor in Bioscience and a professor Computer Science at King Abdullah University of Sciences and Technology, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Adjunct Chaired Strategic Professor of Computational Medicine, Center for Molecular Medicine at Karolinska Institutet & Faculty at the National Science for Life Laboratory, Stockholm, Sweden. He obtained the rank of a chaired full professor in computational biology 4.5 years after his PhD. He is an ERC co-investigator (consolidator) on causal discovery and is ranked as outstanding (highest distinction) at Karolinska Institutet. He is the founder of two BioIT companies, inventor of several patents., and has served as a consultant for startups. Approximately 200 publications (H-index >40, > 10 000 citations), winner of the international DREAM competition (2008) on network inference, and in 2005 he became the winner of national award for founding the most promising company of the year. He has served as an acting Section Editor on Clinical and Translational Systems Biology in Current Opinion on Systems Biology, Senior Editor in Progress in Preventive Medicine, member of the editorial Boards of Complex Systems, BMC Systems Biology, and Neurology: Neuroinflammation & Neurodegeneration. He is a fellow in the European society for Preventive Medicine. Prof Tegnér holds three separate undergraduate degrees (Medical School, Läkarlinjen, KI, MSc Mathematics, MSc Philosophy), 2 years full-time PhD courses in pure and applied mathematics, three international summer schools (Mathematical Sciences Research Institute,Berkeley, California; Methods in Computational Neuroscience, Woods Hole; Non-linear Dynamics in Physiology and Medicine, Montreal, McGill, Canada) PhD/MD September 1997 Medicine, Karolinska Institutet.

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Day 1 – Thursday March 01, 2018

8:30 - 9:00: Registration & Morning Coffee


9:00 - 9:30: Opening - Dr. Arij Daou


9:30 - 10:30: Lecture 1 - Dr. Nicolas Chbat (Columbia)

Parameter Estimation: Core of Personalized Medicine


10:30 - 11:00: Coffee Break


11:00 - 12:00: Lecture 2 - Dr. Lynne Bilston (UNSW)

Advances in Imaging and Image-Based Computational Modeling in Biomechanics


12:00 - 12:30: Biomedical Engineering Program at AUB - Dr. Massoud Khraiche


12:30 - 13:30: Lunch Break


13:30 - 14:30: Lecture 3 - Dr. Jesper Tegner (KAUST)

Yin and Yang - Computational Mathematics and Living Systems


14:30 - 15:30: Computational Mathematics Panel


15:30 - 16:00: Coffee Break


16:00 - 17:30: Student Networking Session



Day 2 – Friday March 02, 2018

8:30 - 9:00: Morning Coffee


9:00 - 10:00: Lecture 4 - Dr. Sliman Bensmaia (University of Chicago)

Biological and Bionic Hands: Natural Neural Coding and Artificial Perception


10:00 - 11:00: Lecture 5 - Dr. Alicia El Haj (Keele)

Advances in Engineering Cells and Tissues for the Clinic


11:00 - 11:30: Coffee Break


11:30 - 13:00: Graduate Research Presentations Session

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Organizing Committee:


  • Arij Daou (Committee Chair, Biomedical Engineering, AUB)
  • Ayad Jaffa (Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, AUB)
  • Jason Amatoury (Biomedical Engineering, AUB)
  • Massoud Khraiche (Biomedical Engineering, AUB)
  • Pierre Khoueiry (Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, AUB)
  • Rami Mhanna (Biomedical Engineering, AUB)
  • Wafic Sabra (Physics & CAMS, AUB)
  • Zaher Dawy (Electrical and Computer Engineering, AUB)