BME research at UAlberta
Biomaterials & Tissue Engineering
Tissue engineering is the use of a combination of cells, engineering and materials methods, and suitable biochemical and physio-chemical factors to improve or replace biological functions. While most definitions of tissue engineering cover a broad range of applications, in practice the term is closely associated with applications that repair or replace portions of or whole tissues (i.e. bone, cartilage, blood vessels, bladder). Often, the tissues involved require certain mechanical and structural properties for proper function.
Biomechanics is the research and analysis of the mechanics of living organisms or the application and derivation of engineering principles to and from biological systems. The study of biomechanics ranges from the inner workings of a cell to the movement and development of limbs, the vasculature, and the bones. As we develop a greater understanding of the physiological behavior of living tissues, researchers are able to advance the field of tissue engineering, as well as develop improved treatments for a wide array of pathologies.
Cryobiology is the branch of biology that studies the effects of low temperatures on organisms, most often for the purpose of achieving cryopreservation. In practice, this field comprises the study of any biological material or system (e.g. proteins, cells, tissues, organs, organisms) subjected to any temperature below normal ranging from moderately hypothermic conditions to cryogenic temperatures. Cryobiologists study the cold-adaptation, preservation of organs under hypothermic conditions for transplantation, lyophilization (freeze-drying) of pharmaceuticals and cryosurgery.
Dental engineering is the application of biomechanics, biomaterials, tissue engineering, nanotechnology, and advances in diagnostic and therapeutic techniques to improve reconstruction, remodeling, and repair of the oral and craniofacial tissues damaged as a result of disease or injury. Research depends upon advances in biology, chemistry, engineering, material science, nanotechnology, and computer science to develop tissue constructs that mimic the structure and function of native oral and craniofacial tissues.
Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES)
Functional electrical stimulation is the application of electrical impulses to cause paralyzed muscles to contract and function in a coordinated manner. Its aim is to restore function in people with disabilities resulting from spinal cord injury, head injury, stroke and other neurological disorders by electrical stimulation of the muscles, nerves, or spinal cord. Restoration allows individuals to stand, restore hand grasp function, bowel and bladder function, and may be combined with the use of neuroprostheses.
Lasers in Medicine
Lasers are used in both diagnostic and therapeutic medicine. While much of their initial applications involved surgery to ablate diseased tissue or to stem bleeding, they were also used for cosmetic purposes. Lasers are now used in areas as diverse as photodynamic therapy, endoscopic imaging, coronary artery treatment, cell surgery, vision correction, and optical tomography.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging/Spectroscopy
Magnetic resonance imaging is a methodology that uses a strong magnetic field together with radio-frequency pulses to produce computer-generated images of the body's internal tissues and organs in living subjects. Images result from specific nuclei in the imaged tissues that contain a magnetic moment, providing sufficient concentrations of the nuclei are present. It is possible using magnetic resonance spectroscopy to gather information related to molecules in the body that contain specific nuclei, for example, 13C or 31 P.
A mathematical model is a conceptual, most often computer-based, representation of a system designed to predict outcomes or aspects of the system. In biomedicine, models can be as diverse as those designed to the understanding of systems of neurons as they interact with one another to the flow of patients and information though a hospital. Modeling can be used to study how microtubules assemble, cancer cells propagate, the structure of proteins and how they function, and problems involving epidemiology.
Medical Imaging (non MRI/S)
Medical imaging refers to the techniques and processes used to create images of the human body for clinical purposes like medical procedures seeking to reveal, diagnose or examine disease or medical science including the study of normal anatomy and function. Images can result from tissue characteristics as diverse anatomical density or electrical impedance, to reflection of sound waves or uptake of radio-labeled pharmaceuticals.
Medical physics, in its broadest sense, is the application of physics to medicine. While not confined to, much of medical physics relates to the diagnostic and therapeutic use of ionizing radiation in the treatment and management of cancer. A related area, biophysics, uses the concepts and tools of physical chemistry and molecular physics to define and analyze the structures, energetics, dynamics, and interactions of biological molecules.
Microelectrical Mechanical Systems (MEMS)
Microelectrical mechanical systems are devices fabricated using techniques generally used in microelectronics, often to integrate mechanical or hydraulic functions with electrical functions. They are generally built on microchips and measure in micrometres. MEMS can be external to or implanted in the body and can measure and analyze properties such as blood pressure, motion, and force, can pump and control fluids, and can serve as chemical and biological analyzers in the form of lab-on-a chips.
Nanotechnology is a field of applied science and technology covering a broad range of topics. The main unifying theme is the control of matter on a scale smaller than 1 micrometer, normally between 1-100 nanometers, as well as the fabrication of devices on this same scale. It is a highly multidisciplinary field, drawing from fields such as colloidal science, device physics and supramolecular chemistry.
Rehabilitation engineering is the systematic application of engineering sciences to develop technological solutions to problems confronted by individuals with disabilities. Functional areas addressed through rehabilitation engineering may include mobility, communications, hearing, vision, cognition. Rehabilitation engineers may design things like hearing aids, prosthetic limbs or wheelchairs.