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International 2011 Materials Education Symposium

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Cross-Disciplinary Teaching: Materials for Biologists and Clinical Scientists

Dr John Dunlop | Max Planck Institut fur Kolloid und Grenzflachenforschung

Cross-Disciplinary Teaching: Materials for Biologists and Clinical Scientists

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The field of research of regenerative medicine in the muscoskeletal system is, by its nature, an interdisciplinary one. As cells are now known to respond not only to mechanical stimuli, but also to the mechanical properties of their environment, this immediately implies that research in this field requires a knowledge of both mechanics and biology. Furthermore, clinical solutions for the design of appropriate implant materials also means that scientists need an understanding of basic materials science. In general, most scientists in regenerative medicine come from only one of these backgrounds, therefore having little or no knowledge of the other ones. This of course makes communication in the early phases of research difficult (as the languages used are different, stress for a biologist can be interpreted very differently by an engineer). One way to address this is through focussed post-graduate education in which basic courses of biology, mechanics, materials science are taught. This presentation will discuss experiences of teaching important mechanics and materials science concepts such as stress, strain, fracture, and mechanical testing to a group of biologists, clinical scientists as well as engineers. The goal is to highlight successes and difficulties experienced.