Delving Deeper Into Life Sciences

Several resources monitor developments in the field

7 December 2012

The past two years have been a productive time for those working on the IEEE Life Sciences Initiative, which debuted in February 2011. Here’s what has been accomplished so far.

The first place to go to learn about IEEE’s life sciences activities is its portal, launched in June 2011. It contains standards, educational materials, research papers, and information about conferences. More than 150 papers excerpted from IEEE publications have been posted on a variety of topics, including artificial skin sensors, developments in the brain-machine interface, and wearable medical devices.

Launched in April, the IEEE Life Sciences Newsletter is e-mailed to subscribers each month. The electronic publication offers news, analysis, and feature articles written by IEEE members on innovations and emerging trends. Recent articles covered neural stimulations that help patients with spinal cord injuries walk again, microfluidics for cancer cell detection, and an overview of apps for the medical field.

Identifying key issues facing the field and figuring out how to solve them are two other initiative goals. To that end, the Grand Challenges Conference was held on 4 and 5 October in Washington, D.C., during which leaders in the field discussed the convergence of engineering, life sciences, and health care.

Invited presenters at the conference, which is to become an annual event, included representatives from academia, government, and industry. Among them were IEEE Fellows Rashid Bashir and Guang-Zhong Yang, whose work is featured in “Engineering Meets Biology” and “The Next Generation.” More general conferences touching on the life sciences are highlighted in "Conferences: January–July 2013."

A new, open-access electronic journal is in the works as a channel for publishing original contributions by authors who may not be allied with a biology lab­oratory, according to Bichlien Hoang, senior program director for the life sciences initiative.

A proposal to produce the monthly eJournal IEEE Emerging Topics in Life Sciences is expected to be submitted to the Periodicals Committee in 2013. Because the open-access journal is to be supported by processing fees charged to authors, readers will have free access to the articles after they’re published in the IEEE Xplore digital library. In turn, the review process for articles will be faster, Hoang says. The journal, she adds, will publish manuscripts about mathematical and statistical modeling and analysis methods that can be applied to biological problems at the molecular, cellular, and organ levels.

FOR MORE INFORMATION on the IEEE Life Sciences Initiative, contact Bichlien Hoang, senior program director, at

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