What Is Tissue Engineering?

If you want a career that combines bioengineering with medical research, you might want to look into tissue engineering. Read on to learn about the field of tissue engineering and how you can be a part of it. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Tissue Engineering Defined

Tissue engineering is a dynamic field of biomedical research and development that involves manipulating the growth of cells in a matrix to create living, bio-compatible tissue for therapeutic or research purposes. To work in this field, you must have a keen understanding of several areas of advanced science, often including medicine, chemistry, biology, mechanical engineering and material engineering. Keeping up-to-date on innovations or discoveries related to your field will also be an important part of your work, and you will benefit by having a desire to learn.

Important Facts About Tissue Engineers

Median Salary (2015)$62,986 for all biomedical engineeers
Job Growth (2012-2022) 27% growth for all biomedical engineers
Similar Occupations Biochemist, chemical engineer, physician/surgeon, mechanical engineer
Key Skills Analytical, communication, problem-solving, and math skills

Sources: PayScale.com, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Applications of Tissue Substitutes

As a science professional working in tissue engineering, you might use your understanding of human physiology and cell biology to monitor and research potential uses for stem cells. You could also focus on the design of bio-compatible nano-materials or the growth of tissues for testing the effects of a new drug. In regenerative medicine, your skills might be used to create replacement or supplementary tissue for a patient's damaged bone, cartilage, internal organs, muscles, veins or skin. Sometimes the creation and generation of replacement tissue takes place directly within a patient receiving treatment. Alternatively, you might culture tissues on a scaffold outside of a patient for later surgical implantation.

Required Education

Your educational requirements will depend on whether you would like to focus on research, teaching or medicine. You might want to start with a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering. This 4-year degree will prepare you for work in tissue engineering by providing you with a thorough background in the natural sciences as well as instruction in the engineering and medical concepts needed for entry-level research positions in tissue engineering. Your core coursework will likely feature a combination of laboratory classes, lectures and conferences, and it may include the following topics:

  • Cellular and molecular biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Mechanics of cells
  • Biomaterials
  • Histology

Advanced Degree Options

If you would like a teaching or managerial position in tissue engineering research, you might want to continue your studies and pursue a master's or doctoral degree in biomedical engineering. You also have the option of combining a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) from an accredited medical school with a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Biomedical Engineering or a related area. A combined M.D. and Ph.D. program will provide you with the experience and training you need to manage clinical trials.

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