Biomaterials engineering is the design, synthesis and optimization of materials to interact with biological components in a defined and predicted manner.
A biomaterial can be naturally derived (e.g., blood vessel or a protein such as collagen) or synthetic (e.g., polymer, metal or ceramic) that comprises all or part of a living structure or biomedical device. These structures or devices are designed to perform, augment or replace some natural function. For example, heart valves, artificial hips, contact lenses and dental implants all rely on biomaterials for their proper function. Additionally, biomaterials play key roles in understanding the physiology of healthy and diseased tissue, and developing new methods to treat or detect disease.
Biomaterials research in the department explores fundamental and applied aspects of biomaterials synthesis and characterization for end uses in tailoring cell-material interactions, detecting underlying causes of disease and infection and treating diseases and injuries that compromise natural function. Because biomaterials engineering is a multidisciplinary field, projects in the department focus on combining core strengths in chemical engineering fundamentals (e.g., kinetics, thermodynamics and transport processes) with skills adapted from polymer engineering, surface science, pharmaceutics, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry and specialized medical science fields such as neurobiology and cardiovascular surgery.