HISTORY OF BERG
The Biomedical Engineering Research Group
The Institute For Biomedical Engineering (IBE) grew out of the Biomedical Engineering Research Group (BERG). BERG was housed within the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering at Stellenbosch University. The IBE is dedicated towards the research & development of innovative medical solutions and advancing medical science through fundamental research. However, the research activities stretched much wider. The IBE recognises the multidisciplinary nature of biomedical engineering and works closely with all the other engineering disciplines, the Faculty of Health Sciences, the Faculty of Science and industry. The IBE’s excellent collaborative partnerships within Stellenbosch University, nationally in South Africa, and internationally is a big strength and has been pivotal in the tremendous growth of the group since its inception.
The Biomedical Engineering Research Group (BERG) was founded in 2005 by Prof. Cornie Scheffer. The need for a biomedical engineering research group such as BERG became apparent due to a growing interest from industry and students alike. The group is currently housed in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, but there are strong associations with the Departments of Industrial and Electrical and Electronic Engineering, as well as the Faculty of Health Sciences. Research endeavours facilitate under research projects at masters and doctorate level, but there are numerous examples of consultation to industry. Projects are mainly funded by industry with supplements from government grants. Starting with only two postgraduate students in 2005, BERG has grown into one of the engineering faculty’s flagship research groups. There are presently an average of 40 students in BERG busy completing their Masters, PhD or postdoctoral fellowships in various areas of biomedical engineering.
The BERG is one of only a handful of research groups in South Africa with a focus on biomedical engineering. As such, BERG has taken on a responsibility to do research into health-related issues that are unique to South Africa, Africa and other developing countries. Therefore, many of the research projects have a focus on being low-cost and aligned with the health-related needs of developing countries. But that is not BERG’s only focus. BERG also ventures into the more advanced cutting-edge research that has large scale global impact. This is in the form of developing state-of-the-art technology and conducting fundamental research to further our understanding of what makes us human.