NIH grant will help diversify biomedical engineering-related research at Kennesaw State

KENNESAW, Ga. | Aug 2, 2023

Géza Kogler
Géza Kogler
Kennesaw State University has begun a program to recruit and educate members of a diverse new generation of innovators in the field of bioengineering, backed by a $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The new program was developed by associate professor of prosthetics and orthotics Géza Kogler who helped establish the Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics program in the Wellstar College of Health and Human Services at Kennesaw State. Kogler credited associate professor of mechanical engineering technology Turaj Ashuri and professor emeritus of electrical engineering Bill Diong for connecting the grant to the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.

Participants will be immersed in the clinical realm of orthotics, prosthetics and rehabilitation. Students will work in clinical settings, receive faculty mentoring, complete a capstone project, and work on an interdisciplinary research team, as well as interact with people who use assistive technology.

“Over a four-year period, we will recruit underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, women and economically- and socially-disadvantaged students, and expose them to spheres of engineering and clinical discovery,” Kogler said.

The Kennesaw State program connects with the NIH’s ESTEEMED (Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Educational Diversity) program, which seeks to “support educational activities that enhance the diversity of the biomedical research workforce through early preparation for undergraduate students in STEM fields,” specifically bioengineering. Kogler has named the program the BRITE project (Bioengineering Research and Interdisciplinary Training—ESTEEMED).

Students involved in BRITE will have their tuition paid for their first two years, then will enter the KSU Journey Honors College for their final two years, where they will have access to other sources of funding. They’ll also receive stipends for summer work through the program.

The program addresses points of emphasis at Kennesaw State, most prominently interdisciplinary studies and pathways to graduate degree programs.

“Especially with bioengineering, you're looking at a very interdisciplinary field that takes in math, physics, biology and engineering,” Kogler said. “A student might develop expertise in a certain aspect of engineering or science and they’re applying those skills in a space that could be clinically valuable, or it could be on the research side to solve a problem.”

The grant was awarded in early July, and the program will start with its inaugural group of eight students for the Fall 2023 semester. In each of the next three years, BRITE will admit another eight students for a total of 32 in the program.

“Normally a grant has a massive impact for a lab, but this one will affect the entire university on both campuses,” he said. “So the tentacles of this grant have an extended reach, and it's not very often you get an opportunity to connect students and faculty in such a transformative way.”

– Dave Shelles

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit