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A Cell Culture-based Biocompatibility Module for Biomedical Engineers

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

BME Laboratory and Project Experiences

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.21.1 - 25.21.17



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Paper Authors


Donna M. Ebenstein Bucknell University

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Donna M. Ebenstein is an Assistant Professor of biomedical engineering at Bucknell University.

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Eric A. Kennedy Bucknell University

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A Cell Culture-Based Biocompatibility Module for Biomedical EngineersAbstractThe challenge of exposing biomedical engineering students to the broad array of coreengineering and biology topics often makes it difficult to adequately address all relevant areas ofthe biomedical engineering field in the undergraduate curriculum. This paper will present a cell-culture based biocompatibility module with laboratory and lecture components that can be easilyintegrated into an engineering or biomaterials course.This module was developed to introduce students to basic cell culturing techniques and toprovide students with exposure to the issues related to the interaction between living and non-living materials (ABET Criterion 9). The lecture component focuses on biocompatibility issues,including: the definition of biocompatibility, cellular response to implantation of a foreignmaterial, and the types of biocompatibility tests recommended by the FDA. For the laboratorycomponent, students are first introduced to basic cell culture techniques, including steriletechnique, cell counting, and cell splitting. Next, students perform an in vitro cytotoxicity assay(direct contact) based on ISO-10993, gaining hands-on experience in biocompatibility testing.In its current form, the unit consists of 3 hours of lecture and 12 hours of cell culture lab spreadover 4.5 weeks; however, this unit can be shortened or expanded depending on time availableand the amount of supplementary topics introduced. A stand-alone cytotoxicity assay, forexample, could be completed by students in one week. Examples of supplemental activities thatcan be incorporated into the unit are included below:- Expanded group and individual cell culturing: After students learn and practice sterile technique and cell culturing principles within small groups, each student is responsible to split and maintain their own cell line for a period of time.- Training videos: To reinforce proper cell culturing practices, groups of students generate training videos to demonstrate procedures such as good and bad pipetting practices, performing a cell split, or counting cells.- Standards: The use of the ISO-10993 cytotoxicity assay opens the door for instruction on the role of standards documents in defining accepted test procedures for medical device development, and introduces the topic of standards organizations as a whole.- Statistics: Statistical methods can be reinforced by involving students in the design of the experiments and requiring statistical analysis of quantifiable results of the cell culture experiments, such as image analysis of the size and shape of cells or cell counts.- Bioethics: The use of HeLa cells or other cell lines originating from traceable human donors affords an opportunity to discuss bioethics issues relating to biologic specimen collection.The self-contained biocompatibility module described in this paper provides biomedicalengineering students with relevant cell culture experience and exposure to the interactionsbetween living and non-living materials. A simple biocompatibility lecture-lab module can beincorporated into an existing class as a 1 or 2 week unit, or the length and depth of the unit canbe expanded through the incorporation of optional supplemental activities. Assessment resultsfrom the past three years demonstrate that the module enables students to meet biocompatibility-related performance criterion, and student satisfaction is indicated by positive comments fromstudent course evaluations.

Ebenstein, D. M., & Kennedy, E. A. (2012, June), A Cell Culture-based Biocompatibility Module for Biomedical Engineers Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20781

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