The field of bioengineering, also known as biological engineering or biomedical engineering, is concerned with biological or medical applications of engineering principles and equipment. Recent developments such as prosthetics, and molecular and cellular engineering equipment, indicate the potential of bioengineering in medical applications. In 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics identified biomedical engineering as the fastest growing occupation in the US.
Bioengineering professionals are expected to have a basic knowledge of electrical and mechanical engineering, computer science, materials, chemistry, and biology. Typical primary objectives of bioengineering include analyzing existing biological systems, manipulating biosystems for better functionality, and designing and fabricating new biological systems. Secondary objectives include the discovery of new engineering principles by analyzing the principles of existing biological systems.
Biomedical engineering has a lot of scope for specialization in a chosen biological engineering domain. Typical areas of specialization include ‘bioinstrumentation’, which consists of using electronics, computer science, and measurement principles to develop devices used in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. ‘Biomechanics’ is the application of classical and modern principles of mechanics to study and solve problems in biological systems. ‘Clinical engineering’ is concerned with the application of the principles of medical technology to optimize health care delivery. ‘Biomaterials’ studies and develops the materials used in medical applications - both natural and synthetic. ‘Rehabilitation engineering’ is concerned with using engineering and computer science to design and apply devices to rehabilitate patients suffering from physical and cognitive impairments. ‘Systems physiology’ is concerned with the application of engineering tools to understand the behavior and dynamics of living organisms. Other courses such as biomedical information storage and retrieval principles, and medical science and technology development are part of the biomedical engineering syllabus at most universities.
Cutting edge developments in biological systems such as cardiovascular engineering, molecular imaging, cancer bioengineering, cellular/molecular bioengineering, systems biology and computational bioengineering have been highly successful due to advancements in biomedical engineering. Much research is also taking place in biophotonics, neural engineering and rehabilitation streams of biomedical engineering. Superior quality patient care is the ultimate objective of biomedical engineering.
Developments such as prosthetics, surgical devices, and systems using laser or robotic surgeries are some recent advances resulting from developments in biomedical engineering. Computer modeling of physiological systems like blood pressure control, renal function control, visual and auditory nervous circuit control have all contributed to patient diagnosis and treatment.
Forrest Bird, John Charnley, Graeme Clarke, Philip Drinker, Willern Einthoven, Wilson Greatbatch, Charles Hufnagel, Robert Jarvik, Willern Johan Kolff, Rene Laennec, Michael Mirowski, Wilhelm Roentgen et al can be considered pioneers in biomedical engineering development. JBSBE, IJBET, BE, JOBSBE, BME, BMES are all journals with in-depth articles covering biomedical engineering.
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