Difference Between Biomedical Engineering and Computational Biology

by Laura La Bella
Biomedical engineering and computational biology strive to use technology to improve our health.

Biomedical engineering and computational biology strive to use technology to improve our health.

Biomedical engineering and computational biology share some commonalities. Each field searches for ways to use, interpret or develop biomedical knowledge for advances in the fields of medicine, the life sciences and the behavioral sciences. While each field requires a base of knowledge in the biological and biomedical sciences, biomedical engineering requires an in depth understanding of engineering and engineering principles while computational biology requires an intimate familiarity with computing systems and computational analysis.

Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical engineering is a multidisciplinary field that combines an expertise in engineering with knowledge of the biological sciences. Biomedical engineers develop medical instruments and systems to improve the treatment, health and well being of individuals suffering from chronic conditions or acute diseases. Biomedical engineers are responsible for such innovations as prosthetic limbs and joints, microscopic surgery, dialysis machines and cardiac assist devices. They combine their knowledge of engineering with anatomy and physiology to develop devices, equipment and medical procedures for a wide range of medical applications.

Biomedical Engineering Degrees

For biomedical engineers to develop medical devices and systems, they need course work that establishes a foundation in the principles of engineering with a precise understanding of the physiology of the human body. Biomedical engineering degree programs combine course work from the chemical, electrical and mechanical engineering fields. These programs explore topics such as engineering analysis, continuum mechanics, differential equations, signal processing, physics, calculus, statistical analysis, design of experiments, biomechanics, biomaterials and biomedical device engineering. Coupled with biology-based courses in areas such as general and analytical chemistry, musculoskeletal biomechanics, cellular and molecular biology, system physiology and biomedical systems, students gain a full understanding of how engineering integrates with the biomedical sciences, enabling the development of a wide array of biomedical solutions.

Computational Biology

Understanding how complex biological systems operate is at the center of computational biology. Computational biology is the identification of scientific solutions using advanced computational techniques that organize, analyze and decipher complex data. Sophisticated biological systems, such as our brains, are run by billions of nerve cells interacting and functioning as a system. To fully understand how our bodies work, researchers are integrating sophisticated computer analyses into their studies. These intricate databases and network simulation tools allow researchers to visualize their hypotheses about the human body into interactive models, which they can use to conduct tests and experiments to better understand how biological systems work.

Computational Biology Degrees

Computational biology degrees provide students with a broad foundation in the basic sciences -- chemistry, biology, physics and mathematics -- plus course work in computing. Students study courses in neurosystems, systems biology, chemistry and cognitive science. Combined with courses in computing, such as programming languages, mathematical modeling, computer simulation, computational and information analysis, computer architecture, discrete probability, artificial intelligence and computer graphics, students are prepared to create, visualize, manage and analyze the massive amount of data being generated by research in biology, biomedicine and other areas.

About the Author

Laura La Bella has worked as a marketing communications writer and editor in the fields of advertising, development and higher education for more than 15 years. She has authored more than two dozen nonfiction books for young adults, covering biographies of socially relevant people, timely social issues and career paths.

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