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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Thomas A Horbett
CHEM E 490
Seattle Campus

Engineering Materials for Biomedical Applications

Combined application of principles of physical chemistry and biochemistry, materials engineering, to biomedical problems and products. Applications include implants and medical devices, drug delivery systems, cell culture processes, diagnostics, and bioseparations. Offered: jointly with BIOEN 490; A.

Class description

This course will provide an overview of the field of biomaterials. The student will learn the history and design principles behind the classes of biomaterials used today in medical devices used as implants in the body or in contact with bodily fluids. Ultimately, the student will obtain the tools necessary to design, analyze, and characterize biomaterials for new applications. The course focuses on the materials in biomedical applications. The major classes of materials along with their properties, characterization, biological responses, specific clinical applications are presented. Articles from the current literature are used to highlight ongoing research and development efforts to improve biomaterials and devices. Near the beginning of the course, students make presentations of on biomaterials used in a specific clinically used device as way to become familiar with the wide variety and great impact of biomaterials and devices used in humans. Later in the course, the students present an analysis of failure mechanisms of the device they described earlier, especially those related to the biomaterials used. In the term paper, the students propose a new biomaterial to be used in the device to overcome one or more of the failure mechanisms of the current version of the device.

Topics Covered: History; relevance and impact; Materials in selected clinical devices (presentations by students in class); Metallic biomaterials: chemical compositions, corrosion/fretting, mechanical properties, osteoinductivity, bone cements; Bioceramics and bioglasses and carbons; natural biomaterials; definitions and terminology; Polymeric biomaterials, chemistry and properties, including polyurethanes and plasma deposited polymers; biomaterials for tissue engineering; biological reactions to implants: blood clotting; foreign body reaction; Failure of devices (presentations by students in class); Surface analysis of biomaterials; Biomaterials in drug delivery; Stents, blood compatibility testing, heparinized surfaces; protein adsorption, foreign body reaction; toxicological testing; device related infection. Biological correlations.

Student learning goals

1. Types of materials used in implanted devices

2. Performance of materials as part of implanted devices in humans

3. Design of material, the rationale for their choice in each type of device

4. Biocompatibility of materials, the reactions of the body to the material and the reaction of the material to the body

5. Failure mechanisms of current biomaterials

6. Design of improved biomaterials, including testing for improved performance

General method of instruction

Lectures by instructor and guest lecturers; two short presentations by students near start and end of the course; term paper

Recommended preparation

Students with background in engineering and some biology and chemistry are the best prepared, but no prerequisites exist as almost all of this background is covered in the text book readings

Class assignments and grading

Class presentation: Approximately 5-8min per student on materials used in an existing device, and 5-8 min per student on failure mechanisms, depending on class size. In 2010 first presentation will be near the start of the course and the second will be near the middle of the course Term paper: design an improved biomaterial to overcome one or more known failure mechanisms of an existing biomaterial in a given device. Reading: usually from the text book but current literature articles may sometimes be assigned, with questions framed by the instructor to answer, weekly.

Reading, presentations, mid term exam, and term paper, with approximately equal weighting.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Thomas A Horbett
Date: 09/14/2010