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President's Post

EnMed: Merging Engineering and Medicine

By Tyson Voelkel '96

President, Texas A&M Foundation
President Tyson Voelkel '96 

Thankfully the field of medicine is always advancing. I know from firsthand experience the amazing advancement of Army medical care for our soldiers in Iraq and witnessed the health care world personally just a few years later with our beautiful daughter Lily, who was diagnosed with a rare congenital condition that required 15 specialists, dozens of operations and months of hospitalization. Christi and I know that it takes research, a robust economy and purposeful philanthropy to evolve medicine. As our health care system continues to progress, it’s clear that Texas A&M University means to be at the forefront of that evolution. The Texas A&M Foundation is proud to play its part.

Last summer, Aggies Invent—an intensive design experience in which student teams create prototype solutions for real-world issues in just 48 hours—took on a medical theme.

Participants were tasked by medical professionals and researchers to create devices that solve common problems faced in the industry. The winning invention was something called “The Preemie Scope,” and someday, it could help doctors better recognize detached retinas in premature babies.

The minds behind the device are Texas A&M graduate students Kenneth Livingston ’21 and Cannon Woodbury ’21, as well as graduate students from other universities. Livingston and Woodbury are first-year medical students participating in EnMed, a program mentioned in this issue's Cover Feature and Trailblazers feature

Developing products like theirs is at the heart of EnMed. Announced last summer as the brainchild of Dean M. Katherine Banks and Dean Carrie Byington '85, EnMed is a partnership between the state’s top-ranked Houston Methodist Hospital, the College of Engineering and the College of Medicine that seeks to educate a new type of doctor with an engineering mindset: physicianeers.

EnMed will serve as the first program for a larger Texas A&M initiative called EnHealth led by Dr. Roderic Pettigrew, an internationally recognized leader in bioengineering and an elected member of both the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering. EnHealth is the nation’s first comprehensive educational program to fully integrate engineering into all health-related disciplines. With Texas A&M’s interdisciplinary makeup and the colleges of dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health and veterinary medicine, EnHealth will have a profound impact on both human and animal health.

This initiative represents a dynamic transformation in health care with a focus on the patient. It acknowledges that the way to solve and prevent challenging health care problems is to take a more integrated approach to education and treatment. With our world-class engineering program, emerging health sciences education and research, and Dr. Pettigrew’s unparalleled expertise, Texas A&M is poised to lead the way in rapidly developing systems and technologies that can address significant health care problems.

And with more than 10,000 students in health-related programs across the Texas A&M System, EnHealth has the potential to impact communities across the state and nation by producing a new type of clinician who can design patient-oriented solutions wherever they practice.

Fundraising for EnMed and EnHealth will be a core focus as we continue the Lead by Example campaign. This convergence of science, engineering and technology is something to get excited about, and I hope it piques your interest as much as mine.

Thanks for all you do.