School of Engineering & Icahn School of Medicine Announce Exchange

November 11, 2018

ISMMS & Cooper Union signage

The Albert Nerken School of Engineering has entered into a "memorandum of understanding" with the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) that will allow students from both schools to take courses for credit and perform research at the other institution, it was announced this week.

"This exchange is great for our students and it's great for New York City," Richard Stock, dean of the school of engineering says. "By opening up specialized bio-medical labs and courses to our engineering students, while offering our world-class engineering resources to ISMMS, we continue to bolster this city as a major location for STEM research."

ISMMS, located on the Eastern edge of Central Park, is the medical school for the Mount Sinai Health System, which includes seven hospital campuses, and has more than 5,000 faculty and nearly 2,000 students, residents and fellows. It received $348.5 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding awarded to its researchers in 2018, 12th among U.S. medical schools for NIH funding, according to the ISMMS website.

Pending approvals by course directors and other relevant officials at the home and host institution, students will receive equivalent credits from the exchange. "The credits will be applicable to towards one's degree, pending advisor approval," Anita Raja, associate dean of research and graduate programs, who led the effort to formalize the relationship, says. "This will open up hundreds of courses to our students in fields like health and medicine, while ISMMS students get access to our specialized knowledge in tissue engineering, machine learning, and data science, among others. This will lead to larger, better funded research opportunities for students and faculty alike."

Organizers aim to begin the exchange in the Fall 2019 semester. It will last for three years at a limited scope while administrators work out how best to scale the exchange for the benefit of both institutions. “This collaboration holds great promise for enriching the academic experiences of our students and those at Cooper Union,” said Marta Filizola, PhD, Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professor of Pharmacological Sciences at ISMMS. “Both institutions are committed to a culture of innovation in research and education, and we are excited to offer this unique experience for students.”

The exchange came about after several years of an informal relationship between the two institutions. "We have many graduates that have gone on to pursue an MD at ISMMS, making us something of a pipeline for them, " Raja says. More recently a number of research projects have sent Cooper students to the labs at Mt. Sinai. Presently two mechanical engineering students are collaborating with members of ISMMS on developing a better skull clamp. Past projects include a portable incubator system for growing cells, and a bioreactor for growing lung tissue.

"I think the new collaboration represents a really spectacular opportunity for both students and faculty," Eric Lima, associate professor of mechanical engineering, says. "One of the biggest challenges for an engineer is getting a juicy, important problem to solve. The researchers and doctors at Mt Sinai are awash with these. One of the biggest challenges for them is getting dedicated engineering work and know-how. We have plenty of that here. Together we will be able to identify important problems and solve them.”

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.