How did Biomedical Engineering evolve?

Biomedical Engineering evolved during the post World War–II period when there was a need for biologists to involve in radar technology. This in-turn prepared them for the electronic developments in medicine in the post-war years. Obviously, a bridge between the gap of technical knowledge and biology was needed. Doctors and biologists with an interest and understanding of engineering became the first Biomedical Engineers.
What does make Biomedical Engineers so Valuable? 

Biomedical Engineers use traditional engineering expertise to analyze and solve problems in biology and medicine, providing an overall enhancement of healthcare. Students choose the field of Biomedical Engineering to serve the people, to partake of the excitement of working with living systems, and to apply advanced technology to the complex problems of medical care. Biomedical Engineers work with other health care professionals including physicians, nurses, therapists and technicians. Biomedical Engineers understand the medical problem, the Chemistry and the Biochemistry involved in doing the sensing, yet they also understand the engineering that goes into developing the devices. They have a great ability to interface with all the specialties that come together in the field.
What are all the works done by Biomedical Engineers

  • Artificial organs (hearing aids, cardiac pacemakers, artificial kidneys and hearts, blood oxygenates, synthetic blood vessels, joints, arms, and legs)
  • Automated patient monitoring (during surgery or in intensive care, healthy persons in unusual environments, such as astronauts in space or underwater divers at great depth)
  • Blood chemistry sensors (potassium, sodium, O2, CO2, and pH)
  • Advanced therapeutic and surgical devices (laser system for eye surgery, automated delivery of insulin, etc.)
  • Application of expert systems and artificial intelligence to clinical decision-making (computer-based systems for diagnosing diseases).
  • Design of optimal clinical laboratories (computerized analyzer for blood samples, cardiac catheterization laboratory, etc.)
  • Medical imaging systems (ultrasound, computer assisted tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, single photon emission computed tomography etc.)
  • Computer modeling of physiologic systems (blood pressure control, renal function, visual and auditory nervous circuits, etc.)
  • Biomaterials design (mechanical, transport and biocompatibility properties of implantable artificial materials)
  • Biomechanics of injury and wound healing (gait analysis, application of growth factors, etc.)
  • Sports medicine (rehabilitation, external support devices, etc.)

What are all the Educational Needs for Biomedical Engineering?

The future of Biomedical Engineering holds great promise for future generations. A solid foundation in engineering is essential, even for students looking to enter medically dominated areas. Biomedical Engineers have unique skills. Often they are needed to bridge traditional engineering skill with medical applications. Biomedical Engineers may be called upon in a wide range of capacities: to design instruments, devices, and software, to bring together knowledge from many technical sources to develop new procedures, or to conduct research needed to solve clinical problems. Biomedical Engineering will attract student’s interest in pursuing a career in medicine, biotechnology, patent law or biomedical product sales and services.

Institution Focus

Major research work of Biomedical Engineering institute will be the focus on physician-driven healthcare problems. The close relationship developed between Information Technology and medical school should make some of the traditional barriers (to collaborate) transparent. The planning and policy board of Biomedical Engineering institute must include medical school faculties and representative of industry, and it also plays an important role in helping Biomedical Engineering faculty members effectively collaborate with industries and medical school. The planning and policy board must be responsible for the framing the syllabus for the technical universities. The faculty members are expected to carry out research in their own field involving the students as their toolbox. This gives the healthcare industrial exposure to students. This collaboration enables conceptual development from institution side and applications in industry focusing towards healthcare problem.

The present curriculum of Biomedical Engineering in India includes basics of Anatomy & Physiology, Biochemistry, Pathology & Microbiology, Electronics, Instrumentation, Signal & Image Processing, Computer Languages and Information Technology along with practical classes. In addition to the above, the students are expected to undergo hospital visit, in-plant training and real-time projects.
In this field, there is continual change and creation of new areas due to rapid advancement in technology; however, some of the well established specialty areas within the field of Biomedical Engineering are: Bioinstrumentation; Biomaterials; Biomechanics; Cellular, tissue and Genetic Engineering; Clinical Engineering; Medical Imaging; Orthopedic Surgery; Rehabilitation Engineering; and Systems Physiology. Conducting research at this interface of computational Biomedical Engineering, prognostics and diagnostics that combine clinical data with patient specific genotyping and molecular profiling have the potential to produce significantly improved choice of therapies for individual patients.

Industry Prospective

A revolution in disease diagnosis began in the 1970s with the introduction of Computerized Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Ultrasonic Imaging. The biomedical field also has been responsible for the development of new therapeutic devices such as the Cochlear implant, life-saving implantable Defibrillators, Pacemakers, Vascular Stent technology etc., has made it possible for minimally invasive procedures to replace major surgery and many more developments.

Cell and Tissue Engineering also has emerging as a clinical reality. Products for skin replacement are in clinical use and progress has been made in developing technologies for repair of Cartilage, Bone, Heart, Lungs, Liver, Kidney, Skeletal muscle, Blood vessels, the Nervous system and Urological disorders.

Now the economy is booming, healthcare is an important issue and industry is looking to expand. It is a good, dynamic time. The medical giants like Siemens, Philips, Toshiba, GE medicals, Hitachi etc., dominate the world in the healthcare market place, which translates into an optimistic view of the future for their field. The growth and domination of the healthcare industry worldwide are strong indicators that Biomedical Engineers will be doing well in the coming years. This translates into a wealth of opportunities for graduates possessing Bioengineering skills.

Information Technology application in healthcare is changing the way medical centers and hospitals are approaching the management of clinical information that includes billing, radiographic information and clinical information. Doctors want the most up-to-date clinical information about the bedside and in the operating room. So, all leading hospitals in abroad have Biomedical Engineering department and is now started in India, and those in the field have made great contribution for the maintenance of high technology medical devices.

The material behavior inside the body is different, so we are changing the way we think about implantable device. This represents new opportunities in material design. The most visible contribution of Biomedical Engineering to current clinical practice involves instrumentation for diagnosis, therapy and rehabilitation. Biomaterial, Rehabilitation Engineering, Computer-assisted Surgery and Medical Imaging are all areas that draw on engineering, science and medical applications. One of the rapid expanding fields is the field of nuclear medicine. New imaging technologies are providing the ability to interrogate and manipulate living biological specimens dynamically to yield information at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels. Nuclear medicine has gone from an imaging and cancer treatment tool to a tool that can be used to treat such deadly diseases such as heart disease, which is one, the leading causes of death in the world.

What is the Future of Biomedical Engineering?

The future will certainly include artificial tissue growth. Currently, the only application of artificial tissue growth is artificial skin for burn victims. This artificial skin is grown, grafted on, and left as a sort of biomechanical tarp until the burn victim’s own skin grows in. Biomedical researchers are currently looking for a permanent skin replacement and are hoping to one day grow actual organs. Many people die each year while waiting for a heart transplant; so many Biomedical Engineers are looking for compact and independent of external power artificial heart that will fit in a person’s chest. In the next 25 years, advances in electronic, optics, materials and miniaturization will push development of more sophisticated devices for diagnosis and therapy such as imaging and virtual surgery.

The Biomedical Engineering is undergoing a major ideological change. The fusion of engineering with molecular cell biology is pushing the evolution of a new engineering discipline termed Bioengineering to tackle the challenges of molecular and genomic medicine. In much the same way that the iron lung (an engineering device) was rendered obsolete by the polio vaccine (molecular medicine), many of the device-based and instrumentation-based therapies in clinical use today will likely be replaced by molecular and cellular-based therapies during the next 20 years.

The new field of Bioengineering will give rise to a new era of “lab on a chip” diagnosis, enabling molecular-level information into complex models. The result will be a revolution in diagnosis and treatment of diseases either by looking for single-signature molecule or by using appropriate algorithms to derive relationships between many interacting molecules; early prediction of onset of disease may be possible.

The entire basic medical research now slowly translates to nano-medicine. Nano is one-billionth (109) part a nanometer. Several hundreds of nano-computers are fit inside the space of a biological cell. These medical nanites could patrol the body, and armed with knowledge of DNA, repel any foreign invaders by forming an artificial immune system. There would be no pain, no bruises, and the results would be overnight. Recent progress in micro-electromechanical systems – the microelectronics, micro-fabrication and micro-machining technologies known collectively as MEMS – is being applied to biomedical applications and has become a new field of research unto itself, known as Bio-MEMS. MEMS is the technology of the very small, and merge at the nanoscale into nano-electromechanical systems and nano-technology. The technology is originally based upon the same technology that has been used to make computer chips ever more powerful and less expensive.

World has moved the Information Technology from E-commerce to Communication sectors via industrial automation with integration on chip for miniaturization. Now it is serious about Biomedical Engineering as their future goal of achievements.

Quick Links