School of Engineering Embarks on First Hong Kong Student Exchange

School of Engineering Embarks on First Hong Kong Student Exchange


Biomedical ong>Engineeringong> Prong>ofong>essor

Finds Success Close to Home

Faculty Prong>ofong>ile

Peter Lum has come full circle in his

academic career. A Washington, D.C.,

native, he spent his formative years

within the District’s boundaries: as a

student at Gonzaga High ong>Schoolong> and

then as an undergraduate at the

George Washington University. Now

an associate prong>ofong>essor ong>ofong> biomedical

engineering, Lum left the District for

postgraduate work, but returned in

2005 to become an assistant prong>ofong>essor

at CUA.

For Lum, academia wasn’t always

the end goal. After earning his undergraduate

degree from GWU and a

master’s from the California Institute ong>ofong>

Technology in mechanical engineering,

Lum worked briefly in the private


“It was not very rewarding and

there was very little imagination or

creativity required to do the job,” he

says ong>ofong> that experience. “A colleague

introduced me to the idea ong>ofong> using

my skills as an engineer to solve

problems in biology and medicine.

I decided to go for it and went back

to school to get my Ph.D. in bio

engineering at Berkeley.”

Prong>ofong>essor Peter Lum

Lum describes the switch as a

perfect marriage ong>ofong> his previous training in mechanical systems with bioengineering problems in

medicine. He has since focused on researching stroke rehabilitation.

“There are over 750,000 new strokes in the U.S. each year and many ong>ofong> these people do not recover

ability to move their arms and legs,” he says. “It was once thought there was no recovery ong>ofong> function

beyond three to six months after the stroke but this has been proven to be incorrect. Use ong>ofong> robotics

has the potential to fill this need, without greatly increasing the costs ong>ofong> health care.”

As part ong>ofong> this research, Lum received a $250,000 contract from the U.S. Army Medical Research

and Materiel Command to work on a project to develop a new hand exoskeleton to help retrain hand

function after stroke. The hand exoskeleton could also be used someday as an orthotic to assist grasping in

patients who don’t recover full function.

He also received a $350,000 contract from NIH to develop a telerehabilitation workstation to provide

home therapy to stroke survivors who live in rural areas or cannot travel to the clinic for treatment. A

Department ong>ofong> Veterans Affairs Merit Review Award will provide Lum more than $600,000 over the next

four years to research robotic arm therapy for stroke rehabilitation.

Even with this busy research schedule, Lum still finds time to share his insights with CUA’s biomedical

engineering students. “I like the small school feel at CUA,” he says. “The small class size allows me to

get to know all ong>ofong> the students, which greatly increases the satisfaction ong>ofong> the teaching, and motivates

me to make the classes as interesting as possible. I really like what I am doing now.”

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