Research in Progress

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Biomedical engineers use the tools and principles of engineering to solve problems in medicine. Research in the field is focused on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of human disease. Cornell biomedical engineers benefit greatly from the university's long history of excellence in the life sciences and engineering. Today, the Ithaca campus stands on the threshold of a new era in biomedical engineering. Because of the spectacular increase in the quantity of biological knowledge and the sophistication of modern biological techniques, it is possible to manipulate, design, and control biological systems in unprecedented ways at the molecular level.

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Research in the College of Arts and Sciences is designed to increase our fundamental understanding of the world around us, but this emphasis on understanding doesn't exclude practical applications. Research on cancer, for example, has yielded important insights into such fundamental biological processes as cell growth and development and the flow of biological information along molecular pathways. Understanding these processes in detail can ultimately lead to the development of useful drugs for the treatment of cancer, and one group of Cornell researchers is working to translate an improved understanding of cancer into useful treatment.

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Amazing progress in medical research over the past 30 years has resulted in effective treatments and even cures for major diseases affecting the U.S. population. While the curative aspect of the biomedicine revolution receives much of the headlines, another revolution is taking place in preventive medicine. It is increasingly recognized that many diseases afflicting the U.S. population are preventable with changes in lifestyle. These include heart disease, cancer, and diabetes - the top three killers of Americans. Diet and nutrition are major components of life-style over which people have considerable control. The Division of Nutritional Sciences (DNS) has played a leading role for over 25 years in improving the public's knowledge of the importance of nutrition in disease prevention and health promotion. DNS has been a leader in human nutrition research, in part, because it approaches human health from a multidisciplinary perspective.

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The dynamic interface between discovery and application—translational biology—is the unifying conceptual framework for the College of Veterinary medicine. Discoveries identified at the molecular and cellular levels ultimately inform the practice of both animal and human medicine. In a parallel fashion, the organization and conduct of medicine influence the type and behavior of basic science research. Since the days of James Law, the founding dean, the college has had a rich tradition of advancing and promoting animal health through discovery - based research. By creating meaningful ties with other scientists at Cornell, faculty in the College of Veterinary Medicine embrace the concept of one biology for animals and humans. Moreover, the college achieves benefits that accrue to an academic medical center through collaborative research programs that unite veterinary and comparative medicine with the biomedical and biological sciences.

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Every day, researchers in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) are pushing back the frontiers of human medicine. Much of their work is not what people traditionally consider when they think of medical research, since it encompasses disciplines such as bioengineering, food science, plant science, and genomics. Within and across CALS departments, however, faculty and students are slowly unraveling the mysteries of the human body and its vulnerabilities and finding creative answers in some unusual places.

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The College of Human Ecology responds to human needs by improving nutrition and health, advancing design and technology, promoting development throughout the life course, and securing economic and social well-being for individuals, families, and communities. The college's multidisciplinary academic departments and programs conduct research that addresses complex societal issues including the cross-cutting theme of human health. Some faculty conduct medical or medical-related research.

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Research in Progress




Economic Development


Undergraduate Research


Technology Transfer


Research in Focus


© 2002 by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research [OVPR], Cornell University