Les Shemilt Lectureship - Blood, Guts and Chemical Engineering

Dr. Michael Sefton, University of Toronto

28 September 2015 at 10:30

Location: MDCL 1110

Blood, Guts and Chemical Engineering 2.0

Thirty years ago it was somewhat of a novelty to speak about bioengineering and chemical engineering in the same breath.  No longer.  We now have bioengineering minors within Chemical Engineering programs and Departments of Chemical and Biological Engineering, as well as stand-alone biomedical engineering undergraduate and graduate programs. Many take biology, along with chemistry and physics, as a prerequisite for an engineering degree.

On the other hand, the chemical engineering values associated with conservation laws, thermodynamics reaction kinetics and transport phenomena remain unchanged. They are being explored in new contexts and with new purposes. For example, we are interested in materials and devices with novel biological properties, materials that are agonists of biological responses of therapeutic significance: materials that induce the growth of new blood vessels and thus enable applications in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. For us, the unit operations include cell activation and migration, recruitment and control of host cells and the assembly of tissue structures through modular components. A feature of chemical engineering is the complexity of the system and the requirement to focus on key rate controlling steps; identifying such “control points” for tissue engineering is the fundamental challenge.

In modern parlance then, bioengineering is simply chemical engineering remix (cf http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/06/20/everything-is-a-remix-3/).

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