Meet Rama Chellappa, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor

July 13, 2020

Bloomberg Distinguished Professor Rama Chellappa joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering with a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the spring of 2020. In this interview, he discusses his inspiration for pursuing a career in engineering, his research in computer vision and medical imaging, his goals for the future, and how he enjoys spending his time while outside the lab.

What made you pursue a career in engineering?

The Apollo 11 moon landing mission inspired me to pursue engineering. Actually, I was glued to the family radio and listened to the live broadcast of the landing on the moon. I also watched a documentary about the landing at the auditorium in the U.S. Consular Office in Chennai, India. This spectacular achievement motivated me to pursue engineering.

Why did you choose Johns Hopkins BME? What are you looking forward to most?

I have been interested in BME since my undergraduate days, when it was called bionics (Biology + Electronics). For my final year capstone project, my classmate and I built an implantable pacemaker. During my academic career, I have investigated many signal and image processing methods for estimating intramuscular signals, markerless motion capture for diagnosing movement-related disorders, medical image reconstruction, and registration and segmentation. My two children are doctors and I have had many opportunities to discuss with them the role of engineering in medicine.

Johns Hopkins BME is uniquely placed in schools of engineering and medicine, which has fostered tremendous collaborations between faculty in engineering and medicine. Johns Hopkins BME is the top ranked program in the world. With joint appointments in the departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, I will be able to pursue collaborative research efforts that bridge these disciplines. One of my current areas of research, Artificial Intelligence (AI), is expected to play a major role in medicine and healthcare. I am looking forward to working with faculty members and researchers in BME and other departments in the School of Medicine in developing AI-based diagnosis and treatment methods for a wide range of diseases that will impact a large number of patients.

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