Asee peer logo

Introducing Bionanotechnology Into Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering

Download Paper |


2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

BME Curriculum Development

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.802.1 - 14.802.9

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Aura Gimm Duke University

visit author page

J. Aura Gimm is Assistant Professor of the Practice and Associated Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University. She teaches courses in biomaterials, thermodynamics/kinetics, engineering design, and a new course in bionanotechnology. Dr. Gimm received her S.B. in Chemical Engineering and Biology from MIT, and her Ph.D. in Bioengineering from UC-Berkeley.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Introducing Bionanotechnology in Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering


As a part of the NSF-funded Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education Program, we have developed and implemented a new upper division elective course in Biomedical Engineering titled “Introduction to Bionanotechnology Engineering”. The pilot course included five hands- on “Nanolab” modules that guided students through specific aspects of nanomaterials and engineering design in addition to lecture topics such as scaling effects, quantum effects, electrical/optical properties at nanoscale, self-assembly, nanostructures, nanofabrication, biomotors, biological designing, biosensors, etc. Students also interacted with researchers currently working in the areas of nanomedicine, self-assembly, tribiology, and nanobiomaterials to learn first-hand the engineering and design challenges. The course culminated with research or design proposals and oral presentations that addressed specific engineering/design issues facing nanobiotechnology and/or nanomedicine. The assessment also included an exam (only first offering), laboratory write-ups, reading of research journal articles and analysis, and an essay on ethical/societal implications of nanotechnology, and summative questionnaire. The course exposed students to cross-disciplinary intersections that occur between biomedical engineering, materials science, chemistry, physics, and biology when working at the nanoscale. We will also discuss the lessons learned and changes made between the first and the second time the course was offered.


Nanoscience offers fresh perspectives on and unexpected solutions to a wide range of unsolved problems in semiconductors, optics, sensing, and biotechnology. Nanomaterials promise everything from faster and smaller electronics to more effective and precisely targeted therapies. Much of the current excitement about nanomaterials involves biomedicine due to the fact that nanoscale materials are the appropriate size to interact with important biological actors, such as proteins, DNA molecules, and viruses. For example, delivery strategies that employ polymeric nanoparticles are currently being developed and used in the fight against diseases such as malaria. The nanoparticles, which carry specific stimulating molecules and addressing molecules, are taken up by targeted immune cells, triggering an increased and more specific immune response1. Although nanoscience promises major benefits for health and may make possible a wealth of new technologies, there have also been concerns about possible harmful effects of nanomaterials on health2-3.

The emerging field of nanoscale science and engineering provides tremendous potential to allow scientists and engineers to improve existing products or to enable completely new applications. In order to realize this potential, the workforce needs to be trained and educated in the interdisciplinary fields that provide the intellectual foundation for nanotechnology4. For this reason, there is a large effort underway to incorporate interdisciplinary training and nanoscale science and technology education into existing undergraduate and graduate, and precollege curricula5.

Gimm, A. (2009, June), Introducing Bionanotechnology Into Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015