/buy'oh en'jeuh near"ing/, n.
1. Also called biomedical engineering. the application of engineering principles and techniques to problems in medicine and biology, as the design and production of artificial limbs and organs.
2. the branch of engineering that deals with applications of biological processes to the manufacture of products, as the use of fermentation to produce beer.
[1960-65; BIO- + ENGINEERING]

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Application of engineering principles and equipment to biology and medicine.

It includes the development and fabrication of life-support systems for underwater and space exploration, devices for medical treatment (see dialysis, prosthesis), and instruments for monitoring biological processes. Development has been particularly rapid in the area of artificial organs, which culminated in the implantation of an artificial heart into a human being in 1982. Bioengineers also develop equipment that enables humans to maintain body functions in hostile environments, such as the space suits worn by astronauts during extravehicular maneuvers.

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      the application of engineering knowledge to the fields of medicine (medicine, history of) and biology. The bioengineer must be well grounded in biology and have engineering knowledge that is broad, drawing upon electrical, chemical, mechanical, and other engineering disciplines. The bioengineer may work in any of a large range of areas. One of these is the provision of artificial means to assist defective body functions—such as hearing aids, artificial limbs, and supportive or substitute organs. In another direction, the bioengineer may use engineering methods to achieve biosynthesis of animal or plant products—such as for fermentation processes.

      Before World War II the field of bioengineering was essentially unknown, and little communication or interaction existed between the engineer and the life scientist. A few exceptions, however, should be noted. The agricultural engineer and the chemical engineer, involved in fermentation processes, have always been bioengineers in the broadest sense of the definition since they deal with biological systems and work with biologists. The civil engineer, specializing in sanitation, has applied biological principles in the work. Mechanical engineers have worked with the medical profession for many years in the development of artificial limbs. Another area of mechanical engineering that falls in the field of bioengineering is the air-conditioning field. In the early 1920s engineers and physiologists were employed by the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers to study the effects of temperature and humidity on humans and to provide design criteria for heating and air-conditioning systems.

      Today there are many more examples of interaction between biology and engineering, particularly in the medical and life-support fields. In addition to an increased awareness of the need for communication between the engineer and the associate in the life sciences, there is an increasing recognition of the role the engineer can play in several of the biological fields, including human medicine, and, likewise, an awareness of the contributions biological science can make toward the solution of engineering problems.

      Much of the increase in bioengineering activity can be credited to electrical engineers. In the 1950s bioengineering meetings were dominated by sessions devoted to medical electronics. Medical instrumentation and medical electronics continue to be major areas of interest, but biological modeling, blood-flow dynamics, prosthetics, biomechanics (dynamics of body motion and strength of materials), biological heat transfer, biomaterials, and other areas are now included in conference programs.

      Bioengineering developed out of specific desires or needs: the desire of surgeons to bypass the heart, the need for replacement organs, the requirement for life support in space, and many more. In most cases the early interaction and education were a result of personal contacts between physician, or physiologist, and engineer. Communication between the engineer and the life scientist was immediately recognized as a problem. Most engineers who wandered into the field in its early days probably had an exposure to biology through a high-school course and no further work. To overcome this problem, engineers began to study not only the subject matter but also the methods and techniques of their counterparts in medicine, physiology, psychology, and biology. Much of the information was self-taught or obtained through personal association and discussions. Finally, recognizing a need to assist in overcoming the communication barrier as well as to prepare engineers for the future, engineering schools developed courses and curricula in bioengineering.

Branches of bioengineering

Medical engineering. Medical engineering concerns the application of engineering principles to medical problems, including the replacement of damaged organs, instrumentation, and the systems of health care, including diagnostic applications of computers.
Agricultural engineering. This includes the application of engineering principles to the problems of biological production and to the external operations and environment that influence this production.
bionics. Bionics is the study of living systems so that the knowledge gained can be applied to the design of physical systems.
Biochemical engineering. Biochemical engineering includes fermentation engineering, application of engineering principles to microscopic biological systems that are used to create new products by synthesis, including the production of protein from suitable raw materials.
human-factors engineering. This concerns the application of engineering, physiology, and psychology to the optimization of the human–machine relationship.
Environmental health engineering (environmental engineering). Also called bioenvironmental engineering, this field concerns the application of engineering principles to the control of the environment for the health, comfort, and safety of human beings. It includes the field of life-support systems for the exploration of outer space and the ocean.
genetic engineering. Genetic engineering is concerned with the artificial manipulation, modification, and recombination of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) or other nucleic acid molecules in order to modify an organism. The techniques employed in this field have led to the production of medically important products, including human insulin, human growth hormone, and hepatitis B vaccine.

Additional Reading
Several of the major branches of bioengineering are treated in the following reference works: Richard Skalak and Stu Chien (eds.), Handbook of Bioengineering (1987); Jacob Kline (ed.), Handbook of Biomedical Engineering (1988); A. Edward Profio, Biomedical Engineering (1993); R.H. Brown (ed.), CRC Handbook of Engineering in Agriculture, 3 vol. (1988); Bernard Atkinson and Ferda Mavituna, Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology Handbook, 2nd ed. (1991); Wesley E. Woodson, Barry Tillman, and Peggy Tillman, Human Factors Design Handbook: Information and Guidelines for the Design of Systems, Facilities, Equipment, and Products for Human Use, 2nd ed. (1992); Mark S. Sanders and Ernest J. McCormick, Human Factors in Engineering and Design, 7th ed. (1993); Alphonse Chapanis, Human Factors in Systems Engineering (1996); Robert A. Corbitt (ed.), Standard Handbook of Environmental Engineering (1990); P. Aarne Vesilind, J. Jeffrey Pierce, and Ruth F. Weiner, Environmental Engineering, 3rd ed. (1994); and James R. Pfafflin and Edward N. Ziegler (eds.), Encyclopedia of Environmental Science and Engineering, 3rd ed., rev. and updated, 2 vol. (1992). Ed.

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Universalium. 2010.

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