BME refers to biomedical engineering, which is a rapidly growing field in the health care arena, yielding significant contributions in the fields of medicine, biotechnology, and other health care industries. It combines research, development, manufacturing strategies for the design, manufacture, and testing of therapeutic and preventive pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, and imaging products and processes. It is a rapidly expanding area with a wide range of applications. BME includes fields such as nanotechnology, regenerative medicine, human engineering, environmental science, and drug delivery.
BME encompasses the entire gamut of the medical sciences, with a number of innovative techniques finding application in clinical and pre-clinical research and development, primary and secondary prevention and treatment of diseases, and even more specific areas such as tissue engineering and cell therapies. BME can be broadly classified into two main categories: mechanistic and bio-medical. Mechanistic engineering fields are those that drive the creation and design of mechanical systems, such as machines and prostheses. Bio-medical engineering fields are those that focus on the study, manufacture, and clinical use of biological materials and components. It is these subspecialties that offer the most promise for advancing the frontiers of medical science.
Some of the areas in which BME has made notable contributions include the field of clinical materials science. Materials science aims to improve the quality of the final products from every aspect including fabrication, analysis, and manufacturing. This includes everything from tissue culture materials, through drug synthesis and production, right down to final-stage drug delivery. By developing materials science, biomedical engineers have the potential to produce and manufacture materials with greater functionality, efficiency, and accuracy.
Another emerging area of BME involves the field of bioengineered materials science, which involves the development, manufacture, and clinical evaluation of new and improved materials and devices. In this arena, biomedical engineers can be found working in a variety of different areas. One of the most common areas is in the field of bioengineered materials science designed to address medical challenges. These include materials designed to reduce the toxicity of products that are used in the manufacture of vaccines and other pharmaceuticals. Also in this niche are materials used in the manufacture of antimicrobial products, such as gowns, disposable liners, and sanitary pads.
Areas of specialization within the discipline of biomedical engineering also exist. One of the more prominent ones includes the area of tissue engineering, which has developed into one of the major areas of interest for medical device manufacturers. Tissue engineering seeks to develop or produce living tissue for use in medicine, such as tissue for transplants and tissue for treatments. Medical device manufacturers often turn to tissue engineers to help them create better and more efficient manufacturing processes for their products. As the field of tissue engineering continues to grow, it has the potential to impact nearly every area of medical technology.
Another specialty area within the larger field of medical engineering is in the area of bioinformatics. This area seeks to improve the design of biological systems, particularly those that are based on genetic information. For example, genetic sequencing has improved the way that researchers can sequence and analyze large numbers of genetic components, producing enormous amounts of data that can be analyzed. This has made the entire study of genetic information more powerful, and it is now possible to map and evaluate entire genetic landscapes using sophisticated statistical methods. In this way, biomedical engineers can help to design better systems and bring them to fruition.
Biomedical engineers also work in the areas of bioinspired designs, translating theory into reality. Often, biomedical engineers work with drug development companies to test the effects of new drugs on the human body in extreme environments. They can then evaluate the effects on experimental animals, to ensure that the human population receives the benefits of these drugs.
Other specialties within the field of medical engineering include vascular technology, which seeks to find better ways to provide oxygen to the extremities, such as the brain and lungs; neurobiological engineering, studying the nervous system; and cardiac technology, working to improve the function of the heart. These engineers may also work in the fields of plastics and textile technology, and in nanotechnology.
In recent years, many biomedical engineers have been trained to work in areas like computer science, math, and chemistry. As a result, there has been an increased demand for these people to fill a variety of jobs in a variety of fields. These engineers not only provide solutions to problems that humans face, but they also help to design systems that are better able to help the human species grow and thrive.