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Department of Biomedical Engineering

Maribel Vazquez Receives AIMBE Professional Impact Award for Education

Maribel Vazquez holding award with another woman

Maribel Vazquez, a professor in the School of Engineering Department of Biomedical Engineering was presented with the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE)  2023 Professional Impact Award for Education at its annual March meeting. 

The AIMBE award citation honoring AIMBE Fellow Vazquez reads: “For her sustained and innovative inclusion of health disparities and its public health impacts into Biomedical Engineering undergraduate curricula, training and outreach.”  

 “It is noteworthy that this AIMBE award is among the first to recognize the importance of health disparities in biomedical engineering,” says Vazquez. “I am hopeful that this award will highlight the need to address health disparities in contemporary BME education and research.” 

A Focus on Health Disparities 

“Raising awareness of health disparities in STEM fields has been a cornerstone of my academic career,” Vazquez reports. “My research highlights how societal and ethical impacts of BME technologies and therapies have profound effects on U.S. public health.”  

Her incorporation of health disparities into core BME undergraduate courses and capstone design projects for over a decade, according to Vazquez, resulted in student innovation awards at national Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) conferences.   

“These activities have complemented my laboratory’s retinal research to develop projects that identified profound disparities in vision loss across age, gender, and type or location of residence,” she says. “Most recently, dozens of BME summer researchers have studied impacts of health disparities on a variety of public health problems, such as stroke, neuropathy, and reproductive health, as part of the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) program awarded to the BME department.” 

According to Vazquez, the AIMBE annual meeting is one of advocacy for federal National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding. A highlight of the Arlington, Virginia meeting was not only receiving her award, but also meeting with AIMBE elected representatives to stress the impact Rutgers research makes on public health in the New Jersey community and across the nation.