Letter from the Chair

Professor K. Kirk Shung is the current chair of USC Viterbi's Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Welcome to the USC Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME). Since our early roots as an option within electrical engineering in 1963, we have maintained a longstanding tradition of advancing biomedicine through the development and application of novel engineering ideas. Our department, founded in 1976, includes over 80 primary and affiliated faculty members that conduct cutting-edge research in a wide variety of areas, including neuroengineering, biosystems and biosignal analysis, medical devices and implants, bioimaging and imaging informatics, and systems cellular-molecular bioengineering.

The department is home to five internationally recognized research centers: the Biomedical Simulations Resource (NIH), the Medical Ultrasonic Transducer Technology Research Center (NIH),  the USC Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics, the Center for Neural Engineering (NSF, DARPA), and the Center for Vision Science and Technology (NIH). Moreover, the Department has a Wallace H. Coulter Foundation Translational Research Partnership Program and is co-located with the Alfred E. Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering at USC. This Institute promotes translation of fundamental research discoveries into commercially viable biotechnologies to improve human health and well-being. Other relevant centers and institutes at USC include, among others, the Center for Applied Molecular Medicine, the Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research, the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and the Consortium for Technology and Innovation in Pediatrics. We consistently rank in the very top tier of all U.S. BME departments in terms of research funding per faculty and are one of the most translational and entrepreneurial departments in the country.

Our undergraduate program, which began in 1974, is among the most established in the world and offers specialized options to nearly 300 students that emphasize biochemical engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. Year after year, the students in our freshman class are in the highest achieving group at USC, with average SAT scores that are consistently higher than the average SAT scores of all USC freshmen. Our department also claims a large share of all Trustee and Presidential Scholarships awarded to the brightest freshmen entering USC. We are also home to nearly 300 graduate students pursuing degrees in one of our M.S. or Ph.D. programs. The Health Technology and Engineering Program offers a unique side-by-side training opportunity for select doctoral and medical students. Our graduates continue to make a difference in advancing biomedical engineering through post-baccalaureate training in medical, dental or graduate school; their research during post-doctoral studies or academic positions; or industry jobs. Our department is strategically situated near the thousands of biomedical companies located in Southern California, a regional hotbed for the biomedical industry.

We thank you for taking the time to visit our site, and we certainly look forward to seeing you at USC.

Professor K. Kirk Shung
Dwight C. and Hildagarde E. Baum Chair

Mission & History


To provide the highest quality undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate education to prepare students for diverse professional careers at the interface between engineering, biology, and medicine


To conduct original biomedical research involving the development and application of engineering approaches in biology and medicine

To apply the knowledge and discoveries of our students and faculty to improve human health and well-being

To conduct original biomedical research involving the development and application of engineering approaches in biology and medicine
Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California began in 1963 as a Ph.D. option (in Systems Physiology) within the Electrical Engineering Department. In 1967, Dr. Fred S. Grodins joined the University and undertook the challenge of establishing a formal program in biomedical engineering. Under Dr. Grodins' leadership, an independent graduate program was established in 1969, and in 1974 an undergraduate program was initiated. The Biomedical Engineering Program was granted Department status in 1976.