Professor Mark Saltzman:
This is a course, a version of which I’ve taught
almost every year for the last twenty years and it evolves a
little bit every year. I think I get a little bit
better at it, so hopefully you’ll get some
advantage from that experience. But the idea is to try to
present to you what’s exciting about Biomedical Engineering,
the ways that one can take science and mathematics and
apply that to improve human health.
I’m not working alone here, but we have three teaching
fellows who are affiliated with the course, two of which are
here today. Yen Cu is back there,
Yen raise your hand higher so everyone can see.
Yen worked on the course last year and she’s the senior of the
teaching fellows that are working on the course this year.
Serge Kobsa is in the back and he’ll be the second teaching
fellow. I should mention that Yen is a
PhD student in Biomedical Engineering and Serge is an
M.D./PhD student who’s getting his PhD in Biomedical
Engineering. The third teaching fellow
couldn’t make it today, his name is Michael Look and
I’ll introduce him to you when he’s available.
This is the goal for my first lecture today,
to try to answer these questions.
You might have already noticed that I’m using the classes V2
server so the syllabus is there, I’m going to go over the
syllabus a little bit later, but the syllabus is available
online. The first reading is available
online and I’ll talk more about the readings when I get to that
portion of the lecture here. I’m going to post PowerPoints
for all the lectures, hopefully at least the day
before the lecture takes place, so I posted this last night.
Some students find that they benefit from printing out the
PowerPoints and they can just take their notes along with the
slides as I go and that’s one way to do it,
but feel free to do it whatever way works for you,
but those should be available. The questions I want to try
to answer today are what is Biomedical Engineering?
So why would you be interested in spending a semester learning
about this subject? I’ll talk about who will
benefit from the course and a little bit about sort of the
detailed subject matter that we’ll cover in the course of
this semester. To answer the question what is
Biomedical Engineering, we’re going to spend time on
that today and we’ll spend time on Thursday,
and I want to approach it from a couple of different angles.
One is by just showing you a series of pictures which you
might recognize and talk about why this is an example of
Biomedical Engineering. This is one picture that
probably you all know what it is when you see it,
it’s a familiar looking image. It’s something that probably we
all have some personal experience with,
right? This is a chest x-ray that
would be taken in your doctor’s office, for example,
or a radiologist’s office. And it is a good example of
Biomedical Engineering and that it takes a physical principle,
that is how do x-rays interact with the tissues of your body,
and it uses that physics, that physical principle to
develop a picture of what’s inside your body,
so to look inside and see things that you couldn’t see
without this device. And you’ll recognize some of
the parts of the image, you can see the ribcage here,
the bones, you can see the heart is this large bright
object down here. If your – have good eyesight
from the distance that you’re at you can see the vessels leading
out of the heart and into the lungs,
and the lungs are these darker spaces within the ribcage.
Physicians over the years of having this instrument have
learned how to be very sophisticated about looking at
these pictures and diagnosing when something is wrong inside
the chest, for example.
So this is an example of Biomedical Engineering,
one that is well integrated into our society to the point
that we’ve probably all got a picture like this somewhere in
our past, and where we understand the
physical principles that allow us to use it.
We’ve gotten, over the last two decades in
particular, very sophisticated about taking pictures inside the
body allowing doctors to look inside the body and predict
things about our internal physiology that they couldn’t
predict just by looking at us or putting their hands on us.
This image on the top here is another example of an imaging
technique, this is a Positron Emission Tomograph,
or PET image, and it’s taken by using
radionuclides and injecting them into you,
so radioactive chemicals that interact with tissues in your
body in a specific way and you can where those radioactive
chemicals go. It allows us to look not just
at the anatomy of what’s going on inside your body like an
x-ray does, but to look at the chemistry,
the biochemistry of what’s happening inside a particular
organ or tissue in your body. In this case,
these are pictures of the brain and this has been an
exceptionally important technique in understanding how
molecules like neurotransmitters affect disease and how they
change in certain disease states in people,
and we’ll talk about this as another example of Biomedical
Engineering, this advanced method is for imaging inside the
body. Well this third picture you
can’t probably see too much about but you probably recognize
what it is, right? Where was this picture taken?
What kind of a space was it taken in? Student:
[inaudible]Professor Mark Saltzman:
Somebody said OR or operating room and that’s right,
this is a picture in an operating room,
and operating rooms if you went into any operating room around
the country you would see lots of examples of instruments that
are used to help surgeons, anesthesiologists to keep the
patient alive and healthy during the course of a surgery.
This particular one down here, this portion here is a
heart/lung machine and this is a machine that can take over the
function of a patient’s heart and lungs during the period when
they’re undergoing open heart surgery,
for example. If they’re having a coronary
artery bypass or they’re having a heart transplant,
then there’s some period at which their normal heart – their
heart is stopped and this machine assumes the functions of
their heart. And this is,
I think, an obvious example of Biomedical Engineering,
building a machine that can replace the function of one of
your organs even temporarily, for example,
during an operation. This is another familiar
picture, I purposely picked one that looked sort of old
fashioned compared to the usual way you see this,
which might be on the nightly news.
You see a bleep going across the screen to indicate that
they’ve got their finger on the pulse of what’s happening,
or you see it in TV shows like ER.
You see these images on computer screens all the time;
it’s an example of an EKG or ECG, an electrocardiograph.
It’s a machine that also looks inside your body,
but looks inside in a different kind of way.
Rather than by forming an image or a picture you put electrodes
on the surface of the body and measure the electrical potential
as a function of position on the body.
It turns out the electrical potential or electricity that
you can measure on the surface of the body reflects things that
are happening deeper inside like the beating of your heart.
If you put the electrodes in the right position and you
measure in the right way you can detect the electrical activity
of the heart and record it on a strip recorder like this one
shown here, or display it on a computer.
So this is another example of Biomedical Engineering where you
can look at the function of a heart in a living person and a
physician who is experienced at looking at these,
and a machine that works well, with those two things you can
diagnose a lot of things that are happening inside of a heart
and we’ll talk about that about halfway through the course.
This picture might be less familiar to you but you probably
all know that we have developed over the last 100 years or so
the ability to take cells out of a person,
or cells out of an animal, and keep those isolated cells
alive in culture for extended periods of time:
this technology is called cell culture technology.
We’re going to spend quite of bit of time talking about it
during the third week of the course.
By taking cells from the skin, for example,
or cells from your blood or cells from the bone marrow and
keeping them alive in culture, we’ve been able to study how
human cells work and learn a lot about the functioning of human
organism. We’ve also learned how to not
only keep cells alive, but in certain cases make them
replicate outside the body, so maybe you could take a few
skin cells and keep them in culture in the right way and
replicate them so that you get many millions of skin cells
after several weeks or so. Now one of the new
technologies that’s evolving, that we’re going to talk about
in the last half of the course, is taking cells that have been
propagated in this way outside the body and encouraging them to
form new tissues. This is one example of that:
this is actually artificial skin.
It’s in this Petri dish. Here is a thin membrane,
it’s a polymer scaffold, and on that polymer scaffold
scientists have placed some skin cells and they’ve allowed it to
grow. And if you maintained it in the
right way, this polymer scaffold together with the skin cells
will grow into skin. And you can use this tissue
engineered skin to treat a patient who’s had severe burns,
for example, or a diabetic who’s developed
ulcers that won’t heal. So this is an example of a
technology that’s just emerging now, it’s certainly going to
impact you in your lifetime and we’ll talk about how it works
and what the current state-of-the-art is there.
This device held here is really made of mainly plastic
and a little bit of metal. It’s a fully implantable
artificial heart, and it was introduced about
seven or eight years ago now. It was implanted into the first
patient, a gentleman in Kentucky, and he stayed alive
for a period of time with this device replacing his heart.
Development of an artificial heart, again another example of
Biomedical Engineering, is something that people have
been trying to accomplish for decades now, and this is the
closest that we’ve come and there are many advantages of
this particular artificial heart.
And it’s important innovation in several different ways and
we’re going to talk about this whole science of building
artificial organs, devices that are made out of
totally synthetic components to replace the function of your
natural organs, and the artificial heart is a
good example of that. This picture on the bottom
here is really just a series of colored dots.
Some are yellow, some are red,
and some are green – does anybody know what this is?
Have you seen pictures like this?
It’s an example of a technology called a gene chip that allows
you to, on each one of these spots there is DNA for example,
that’s specific for a particular gene in your genome,
in the human genome for example.
By incubating a small sample of fluid from a patient on a gene
chip like this, where every one of these dots
represents a different gene, you can see by looking at the
pattern of colors on this chip which genes are being expressed
and which genes are not being expressed in that particular
individual. So it lets you do a profile of
not just the genes that you possess, for example,
but what genes are actually being used to make proteins in
the cells that surround the fluid where this was collected.
So this has been a remarkable innovation.
It’s another example of Biomedical Engineering
technology that allows us to look at what’s happening inside
an individual, a patient, in a totally
different way than we were before.
By looking to see not just what genes you carry but what genes
are being used at particular times in your life.
This is mainly a research tool now, but there’s lots of reasons
to believe that this is going to change the way that physicians
practice medicine by allowing them to diagnose or predict
what’s going to happen to you in ways that they can’t currently.
And so we’ll talk about technologies like this,
where they’re at, what the scientific basis of it
is, and how they might be useful.
This is an airplane, what does that have to do with
Biomedical Engineering? Well you could stretch it and
say that an example of engineering to improve human
health is getting them from one place to another,
but that would be more of a stretch than I’m going to make.
But it turns out that technologies like airplanes,
which were developed in the last century,
have become integral parts of medicine.
For example, you all know that the only
treatment for some diseases is to get an organ transplant:
a kidney transplant, or a liver transplant is the
only life extending intervention that can be done for some kinds
of diseases. Transplants require donors,
and the donor organ is usually not at the same physical
location that the recipient is, and so jets like this one have
become very important in connecting donors to recipients.
A team of surgeons is working to harvest an organ at one site
while another team of surgeons is working to prepare the
recipient at another site, and the organ is flown there.
Now why does that happen? Because you have to get the
organ from one place to another fast, right?
The organ has to get from one place to another very rapidly
and this is the fastest way to do it.
Well what if we could develop ways using engineering
techniques to extend the life of an organ, so it didn’t have to
get it where it went so quickly? Then that would open up lots of
more possibilities for organ transplantation than are known
now. What if we could figure out
ways to avoid organ transplantation entirely?
What if we could just take a few cells from that donor organ,
ship them to the site, grow a new organ at the site
and then implant it there? These are examples of
Biomedical Engineering of the future that expand on what we
currently use, which involves to no small
extent, technology like this. I would guess that probably 30%
to 50% of you do this everyday, you put a piece of plastic,
a synthetic piece of plastic into your eye to improve your
vision. Contact lens technology has
changed dramatically from the time that I was born to the time
that you were born, and the contact lenses you use
today are much different than the ones that would have been
used 30 years ago. This is Biomedical Engineering
as well. Engineers who are developing
new materials, materials that can be,
if you think about it, there’s not very many things
that you would want to put in your eye and that you would feel
comfortable putting into your eye,
so this is a very safe, a very inert material.
What gives it those properties? What makes it so safe that it
can be put in one of the most sensitive places in your body,
in contact with your eye? Why do you have confidence
putting it in contact with one of the most important organs of
your body? Because you trust biomedical
engineers to have done a good job in designing these things
and we’ll talk about how biomaterials are designed and
tested, and what makes a material,
the properties of a material that you could use as a contact
lens, what are the properties that it
needs to have. This is an example of an
artificial hip. We’ve learned a lot about the
mechanics of how humans work as organisms over the last 100
years or so, how we work as sort of physical
objects that have to obey the laws of physics that you know
about. We live in a gravitational
field and that it affects our day to day life,
and if you have hip pain or a hip that’s diseased in some way,
and you can’t stand up against that gravitational field in the
same way, that severely limits what you can do in the world.
So biomedical engineers have been working for many years on
how to design replacement parts for joints like the hip:
the artificial hip is the most well developed of those.
We’ll talk about this in some detail.
You can imagine that there are many requirements that a device
like this has to meet in order for it to be a good artificial
hip and we’ll talk about those and how the design of these has
changed over the years and what we can expect in the future.
Lastly, up here, is a picture of a much smaller
device, this is actually an artificial heart valve that is
made of plastics and metal and can replace the valve inside
your heart. Valvular disease is not
uncommon in the world; we’ll talk about that a little
bit. We’ll talk about how your
normal valves function inside your heart and how your heart
couldn’t work in the way that it did if it didn’t have valves
that were doing a very complex operation many,
many times a day. And then we’ll talk about how
you can build something to replace a complicated small part
in the body like that. Well let’s take a step back
for a minute; that’s one way of looking at
Biomedical Engineering, by looking at sort of the
things that you know about that have been the result of the work
of biomedical engineers and talk more generally.
But what is engineering? What do engineers do?
What makes engineering different than other fields of
study? What makes it unique so that we
have a school of engineering at Yale that’s separate from
science and the humanities? Any thoughts?
Student: It’s more
hands-onProfessor Mark Saltzman: It’s much more
hands-on. You’re actually in there doing
things. Many of the things I showed you
were things that were built from parts, that’s a good
description. What makes it different from
science? Science can be hands-on,
you might be down at the lake picking up algae and studying
them or something, that would be hands-on.
But what’s different – what would make you an engineer?
Mark Saltzman: You design.
Scientists observe and try to describe and engineers try to
design. They take those descriptions
and the scientist that is known and they try to design new
things, and so if you look at a
dictionary it has words like this, that you’re designing
things or another way to say that is that you’re trying to
apply science, you’re looking at applications.
We’re trying to take scientific information and make something
new. The other thing about it is
that you could make lots of things that are new but
generally you think of engineers as making things that are not
just new but they’re useful, that they do something that
needs to be done, and that they do something that
improves life, the quality of life of people.
So here is a brief and very biased history of engineering.
It’s short. Engineering became a discipline
in about the middle of the 1800s.
Lots of universities started teaching engineering as a
discipline including Yale. In 1852, around that time,
this might have been the first course that was offered in
engineering in the country: it was taught at Yale in civil
engineering in 1852, and even Yale students don’t
know this; what a long,
distinguished history of engineering that their own
institution has. In fact, the first PhD degree
in engineering was awarded to a fellow named J.
Willard Gibbs at Yale in 1863 for a thesis he did on how gears
work or something, I forget exactly what the
details are, but have you heard of Gibbs?
Is it a name that rings a bell? Where did you hear about Gibbs
[inaudible]Professor Mark Saltzman:
Mark Saltzman: G,
Gibbs free energy, that annoying concept that you
had to try to master in chemistry at some point,
but Gibbs is really the father of modern physical chemistry and
was one of the most famous scientists of the nineteenth
century and got the first PhD in engineering here at Yale.
Then from these beginnings, engineers transformed life in
the twentieth century: a lot of things started in the
twentieth century and became common place.
Things like electricity, having electricity delivered to
your home, so you had to have ways to generate electricity and
to carry it from point to point and it was engineers that did
that. Built bridges and roads and
automobiles, so we can get from one place to another relatively
quickly because of that. Because there are airplanes
that were also developed by engineers in that century.
We designed a lot of new materials that could be used to
build things that couldn’t have been done otherwise.
Things like steel and polymers, or plastics,
and ceramics, and of course computers which
has progressed remarkably due to the work of engineers in your
lifetime, until now you can carry around
a cell phone, which would have been
unthinkable even 30 years ago. Engineers in the twentieth
century have transformed our society.
One of the other things that happened during the
twentieth century is that human life expectancy increased
dramatically, people started living a lot
longer. What I plot on this graph here
is as a function time, years, dates,
life expectancy as a function of time.
What you’ll see here is that about – for the period before
sort of 1700 or so, human life expectancy was less
than 40 years of age, so that means a person that was
born in that year could expect to live on average about 40
years: that was the expected life span.
The expected life spans increased dramatically in the
last couple of hundred years until now,
for people that were born when you were born you can expect to
live to be 80 years old, a doubling in life span,
fairly dramatic. So what’s responsible for
that? Why are people living longer
than they did just a few hundred years ago?
Well there’s a clue here on the slide.
I indicated a couple of points here where if we looked in the
1665 in London you could ask the question – another way to ask
the question why are people living so long is to ask the
question, why do people die?
In 1665,93% of the people that died in that year died of
infectious diseases. In contrast,
if you look at a U.S. city, ten years ago in 1997 for
example, then people still died but they didn’t die
predominantly from infectious diseases.
They died from other things: only 4% died from infectious
diseases. So one of the reasons there
is a huge increase in life span is because people aren’t dying
of things that they would have in prior years.
Why the change in infectious diseases?
Why did I focus on that one? What makes it so much better to
be alive now in terms of your likelihood to die of an
infectious disease than it did in London in 1665?
Mark Saltzman: Yes, but what specifically? Student:
[inaudible]Professor Mark Saltzman:
Drugs like antibiotics, Penicillin, Erythromycin,
again something else you probably all had experience with
and you think well that’s not Biomedical Engineering that’s
science, that’s somebody discovering a
molecule that kills microorganisms.
That’s true, it is science,
but in order for that to go from being a science that works
in a laboratory or in one hospital to being Penicillin
which could be used all over the world,
you’ve got to be able to make it in tremendously large
quantities and that’s the work of biomedical engineers,
making Penicillin in the kinds of quantities that you need so
that a dose could be available for everyone in the world if
they got infected, and to make it not just in
abundance but make it cheaply enough that everyone could
afford it. So if you can make 100 tons of
the drug but it costs $100,000 a gram that might not be a useful
drug because nobody could afford to use it.
So it’s the work of biomedical engineers, really,
to take these innovations in science like drugs and make them
useful, make them so that everybody can
take advantage of it. You also mentioned vaccines
and we’re going to talk a lot in the middle part of the course
about vaccines and the engineering of immunity.
How do you engineer what happens in our immune system in
order to protect us from diseases?
That’s another example of an area where biomedical engineers
have made tremendous contributions.
So just to go a little bit further with that point,
if you looked at the causes of death in London in 1665 here’s a
list that I got from a source that was written at that time,
and I don’t even understand what some of these things are,
but the ones in green are infectious diseases,
they’re infectious causes of disease.
Spotted fever in purples for example, which we call measles,
was a significant cause of death as was the plague,
which we don’t have anymore, thank goodness.
But people died typically of either infectious diseases or
they died during childbirth, or they might have died at old
age which would have been 50 or so at that time.
In contrast today, because we have antibiotics and
we have vaccines, people don’t die of infectious
diseases as often. They live much longer lives and
they live to die of something else and the leading causes of
death currently haven’t changed very much since 1997 when this
data was published: they die of heart disease and
cancer primarily. Those are the number one and
two causes of death. We’re going to talk a lot about
how one can use the technology that we have now to treat these
kinds of diseases like cancer and heart disease.
But why do you think these are the number one and two now?
How come these have risen above infectious diseases over the
last several hundred years? Why is cancer one of the
leading killers in the U.S. now but wasn’t even on the
charts in 1665? Student:
[inaudible]Professor Mark Saltzman:
So it could be that – what’s your name?
Student: JustinProfessor Mark
Saltzman: So Justin said it could be new things that are
around and you’re exposed to stuff we weren’t exposed to
before and that’s true. Our environment has changed,
the world has become industrialized.
We’re exposed to things that might cause cancer where weren’t
exposed to them before and so that might be a reason.
Student: they might not know what it
was?Professor Mark Saltzman: In 1665,
they weren’t diagnosing cancer. It was easy to tell if somebody
had an infectious disease but you might not have known that
they had cancer at that time and they just died.
We didn’t have the same methods of diagnosis that we do now,
so maybe it was just not diagnosed then.
Mark Saltzman: People are living longer
and so now they have more opportunity to get cancer,
right? The longer you live the more
opportunity you have to acquire a disease like cancer,
which often is an accumulation of defects that occur over a
long period of time. So we’re going to talk about
cancer. For example,
how cancer diagnosis has improved, what are some of the
causes of cancer in the environment around us and how
can we protect ourselves from it,
and we’ll talk about treatments for it as well.
Cardiovascular disease, why is cardiovascular disease
on the top? Student:
[inaudible]Professor Mark Saltzman:
Obesity or generally our diets are different than they
were in 1665. We eat different kinds of
things and many people think that that’s what has contributed
to much more heart disease. But it could also be that it
wasn’t as easily diagnosed then. So people were dying of old age
and that was really heart disease that was killing them
they just didn’t know, so it’s multi-factorial and
we’ll talk about that. I just wanted to show you
this last graph, or this last set of statistics
to go from causes of death in the U.S.
to causes of death in the world, to illustrate that what
happens in the world around us in the U.S.
isn’t necessarily the same as what happens in other places
around the world. In other places,
infectious disease is a much bigger part of their life and a
much greater risk of death from infectious diseases and
parasitic diseases if you live in places other than the U.S.
or Western Europe, for example. So the problem of infectious
disease prevention and treatment isn’t solved yet,
you know this, right?
So there’s plenty of room to still innovate in that way,
to develop new methods that could protect against diseases
like AIDS or diseases like malaria that we don’t have
problems with here but they do in many parts of the world,
and so we’ll talk about that. I mentioned the book for
the course and the book is a book that I’ve written.
It’s not published yet and so I’m going to put chapters from
the book that are in fairly final form,
and I think you’ll find them easy to read,
but you don’t have to buy it. It’s going to be posted on the
Internet and I’ll post chapters sort of in advance of the
reading assignments. If you looked on the classes
server you saw Chapter 1, and Chapter 1 describes some of
the sort or organization of Biomedical Engineering into
sub-disciplines, which I’ve listed here.
So we’re going to talk about thinking about the body as
a system, as a system that can be understood the same way a
motor could be understood or a computer that could be
understood. That study is Systems
Physiology and that’s an important subdivision of
Biomedical Engineering. We’ll talk about
instrumentation a little bit and I’ve mentioned this,
things like the EKG machine and the heart/lung machine are
instruments that are designed to either keep patients alive or to
allow you to monitor their function over time.
We’ll talk about imaging which I mentioned, biomechanics or the
study of humans as mechanical objects.
We’ll talk about a field which is growing now called
biomolecular engineering and that is the design of
biomaterials or new materials that can be implanted in the
body, it’s new ways of drug delivery.
It’s this whole field of tissue engineering that I mentioned
earlier. We’ll talk about artificial
organs and we’ll talk about systems biology or thinking
about how to acquire information for things like gene chips and
use that information to understand what’s happening in a
complex organism like you. Now, I’ve highlighted three
of these in blue here, imaging, mechanics,
and biomolecular engineering because if you go on to study
Biomedical Engineering here at Yale anyway,
these are the things that you might pick to emphasize on.
These are the things that we do best and where we have advanced
course work available in these three categories and so I’m
going to emphasize these three but we’ll talk about all of
these subjects as we go through the course.
The syllabus is posted online. I’ve just copied it here so you
could take a look at it. Week 1 we’re trying to talk
about this question, what is Biomedical Engineering.
There are some chapters here for readings:
Chapters 1,2, and 4.
I’ve only posted Chapter 1, which basically reviews the
things I’ve talked about today. Chapters 2 and 4 are really
reviews of things that you probably already know something
about, so they’re reviews of basic chemistry.
So chemical concepts that are important for us to all
understand as we move forward and review of proteins and
So I’m going to post those online and we’re not going to
talk about them directly in the lectures but they’re there as a
resource, so if you read about something
like pH and you’ve forgotten what pH is, you can go back to
Chapter 2 which is posted and you can read about pH and I try
to take you through sort of what you need to know in order to
understand the rest of the course material.
And if you’ve forgotten about proteins and what their
structure is like, you can go to Chapter 4 and
read sort of a brief review of protein biochemistry.
In the section this week, I’ll talk about the section
meetings in just a moment, but there’s no required section
meeting this week. During the section times I’ll
be available if you feel like you want to read Chapters 2 and
4 and then come and ask questions,
sort of a tutorial on these topics of chemistry and
biochemistry, then I’ll be available to talk
about that during that time. We’ll start with Week 2 talking
about Genetic Engineering; what’s DNA, how can it be
manipulated, how is our ability to manipulate DNA led to things
like gene therapy which can now be in people.
And we’ll talk about that and that’s what Chapter 3 is about.
We’ll talk about cell culture engineering during Week 4,
how do you maintain cells in culture, what are the limits of
this. How can you use cultured cells
to do things, and how do engineers build new
things out of cultured cells is going to be a subject we talk
about throughout the rest of the course and the chapter is listed
here. So I think that’s enough,
you can follow along with the syllabus and see sort of what
the topics are each week, what the reading assignment is
to do before the lecture in order to get the most out of the
lecture. Now, each week we have a
section meeting, required section,
they’re all – all the sections meet on Thursday afternoon and
the idea of the section is to amplify on some subject we’ve
talked about during the week. We do this in the undergraduate
Biomedical Engineering laboratory in the Malone
Building so that we can do demonstrations and sort of hands
on projects to really get a little bit deeper into the
subject that we’re considering. So in the first week we run a
section called from strawberries to gene therapy where we talk
about DNA, extract DNA,
you can play with the DNA of an organism and we can think about
how to use DNA for other purposes.
In Week 3 you’ll actually do some cell culture in the
laboratory and look at cultured cells and learn how to
manipulate, do some manipulations on cells
and culture, and so on throughout the weeks.
We have a one hour section that’s designed to give you some
more detailed experience, some hands on experience with
some of the topics we’re talking about.
There are no lab reports that are due.
There sometimes will be homework assignments which sort
of build on what we’ve done during the section but it’s not
a lab in that sense that it’s a long experience in the afternoon
or that requires any detailed reports.
But it is required and I think an important part of the course.
There’s a mid-term exam halfway through and a final exam at the
end, and there’s a term paper which is due near the end of the
course. So this just – just saying
a little bit more about the sections, there’s three
sections, we have online discussion
section sign up, has anybody tried to do that
yet? Just so they know that it’s
available? So it was supposed to be
available from day one, you can sign up for a section
that fits your schedule and this is sort of the list of things
that we’ll go through in the section meetings.
Grading – 30% of the grade is for the mid-term,
30% for the final, and the final is not
cumulative, the final covers only things
for the last half of the course, so it’s really just like a –
covers half the course but it’s given during the final exam
period. There’s a term paper which I’ll
talk more about as the weeks go on that’s also worth 30% of the
grade. You’ll have weekly –
approximately weekly homework assignments that account for 10%
of your grade, but they have an impact beyond
the 10% because if you can do the homework and you understand
the homework, you’re going to have no problem
with the exams. I encourage you to spend more
time than the weighting would suggest.
So how do you get an “A” in the course?
It’s very simple. You do the reading before
class, you come to class, and you do the homework.
And I guarantee you if you do those three things throughout
the course that you’ll do well in the course and I’ve said this
almost every time I’ve given the course and nobody has ever told
me that I’m wrong. And so do these three things,
if you don’t get an “A” than you can come back and talk to me
about it later. The assignment for the next
class is to do Problem 2 of Chapter 1, which I’ve repeated
right here, and that’s to think beyond what
I’ve talked about in terms of what is Biomedical Engineering.
To think a little bit more about Biomedical Engineering
products that you’ve encountered in your life,
or that you have some experience with,
and then to think beyond what information I’ve given you in
the chapter or in this lecture to say what products of
biomedical engineering do you expect to become routine in the
next 50 years. So spend ten or 15 minutes
thinking about this and write it down and bring your responses to
class in the next period and we’ll talk about that.
So at the end of this first lecture where I’ve gone some way
in trying to tell you what Biomedical Engineering is about,
I thought I would try to relate it in a different sort of way.
And you’ve heard this poem, London Bridge is Falling Down,
everybody’s heard this poem? You played the game;
I don’t know if there’s a videogame now,
if people play games like this where London Bridge is Falling
Down. This is a picture of London
Bridge, it’s an interesting bridge which is important in the
history of London. Bridges have really changed our
society and allowed us to get from one place to another in
ways that we couldn’t have gotten to easily before.
One of the interesting things about London Bridge is that it’s
now no longer in London, it’s in Arizona,
you can see a palm tree here. When they reconstructed London
Bridge they moved the old London Bridge to Arizona;
some guy bought it. That must be an interesting
story, but I just have it here, and I think the poem tells you
something about engineering if you go through it – and the
problems of engineering.In bridge building we’re well
advanced in understanding what are the problems with building
bridges and how do we overcome them?
For example, one thing that could happen is
that you build it up with wood and clay,
you pick the wrong material for a bridge, and it will not stand
up to the forces of nature. It will wash away and so you
got to pick the right materials in order to build a bridge.
So you pick a better material like iron and steel,
that makes a better bridge, we know that now because we
have experience with bridges, but still your bridge might
fail. It might fail for a different
reason. It might bend and bow,
that is it’s not the forces of nature like the movement of the
river that’s knocking the bridge down,
but it’s just the failure of these materials over time,
that they don’t last as long as they might.
So you build it with a material like silver and gold,
and then you encounter the problems of society that your
bridge might get stolen because somebody thinks they have a
better use for silver and gold than your bridge.
I would say that in Biomedical Engineering,
largely, we’re still at the stage where we’re trying to
understand how things work and how they fail,
and what materials are the right ones.
We’re maybe where civil engineering and bridge building
was 100 years ago. And that makes it for me a very
exciting time to study this because the problems aren’t
solved in the way that bridge building is largely a solved
problem now. Problems like the artificial
heart are still unsolved, there’s still room for
innovation, still room to learn from what
hasn’t worked before, to learn from science,
and to design something better. So one of my purposes of this
course is to get you, whether you study Biomedical
Engineering after this or not, excited about the subject so
that you start thinking about how you could innovate in this
area where lots of problems are still left to solve,
so I’ll see you on Thursday hopefully.