Histological Processing Equipment for Bioengineering Technology Education and Laboratories

Project Title: Histological Processing Equipment for Bioengineering Technology Education and Laboratories

Long Title (if desired): Histological Processing Equipment for Validation of Biomedical imaging, Tissue engineering, Biomaterials, and Biomechanics Laboratories in Bioengineering

Project Lead's Name: Hui Wang

Project Lead's Email: wangh44@MiamiOH.edu

Project Lead's Phone: 513-529-4880

Project Lead's Division: CEC

Primary Department: Chemical, Paper and Biomedical Engineering

Other Team Members and their emails:

  • Justin Saul (sauljm@MiamiOH.edu)
  • Jessica Sparks (sparksj6@MiamiOH.edu)
  • Amy Yousefi (yousefiam@MiamiOH.edu)

List Departments Benefiting or Affected by this proposal: Chemical, Paper and Biomedical Engineering

Estimated Number of Under-Graduate students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 50

Estimated Number of Graduate students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 5

Describe the problem you are attempting to solve and your approach for solving that problem: The technical fee requested by this proposal is to develop a new laboratory for all bioengineering students to learn tissue processing and histology analysis, one of the most critical technologies widely used in all hospitals, medical device companies, core centers, and medical schools.

Bioengineering students receive theoretical training in a broad range of topics related to the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and understanding of living systems and human health. These areas of study present an additional challenge not present in most traditional engineering curricula: the interaction between living and non-living systems. Indeed, the primary accrediting body for engineering (the American Board of Engineering and Technology; ABET) specifically requires the Bioengineering students assess interfaces between living and non-living systems. As a result of this requirement, virtually all courses in Chemical, Paper and Biomedical Engineering (CPB) focused on Bioengineering have at least one laboratory course where students conduct experiments at the interface between living and non-living systems. In addition, many senior capstone projects (conducted as part of CPB 471/472: Engineering Design I and Engineering Design II) provide students with hands-on activities related to their core bioengineering training such as biomechanical testing of tissues, drug delivery devices, tissue engineering/cell culture or design of biomedical imaging/optics equipment.

While these laboratories are very important for student learning and meeting accreditation requirements, student learning would be significantly enhanced by also allowing students to learn critical technologies which are typically used as a gold standard for diagnosis and validation. Thus, the problem that we are attempting to solve is enhanced learning and practical understanding of methods and techniques that students are likely to encounter in the future (industry, medical school, or academia/graduate school). Below, we briefly highlight how tissue processing, histology analysis, and tissue imaging would be applied to four different existing or proposed courses in the Bioengineering curriculum.

CPB 424 Biomedical Imaging (in developing by Dr. Hui Wang): Biomedical imaging offers the opportunity to conduct diagnosis with imaging processing. Although all images could be used as resources, tissue images acquired through histology allow students to directly apply their learning achievements to solve real clinical related issues. For example, students can acquire histological tissue images from a disease model and try to use imaging processing to segment features related to the disease. With the lab capability, students will be aware of the sources of images and how biotechnology could potential affect diagnosis capability. This kind of project based learning can create long-term retention of the concepts they will learn.

CPB 426 (Tissue Engineering; existing course – Dr. Justin Saul): A key aspect to this course is the integration of biomaterials (i.e., scaffolds), signals (mechanical or chemical cues) and cells for the design of living tissue substitutes. Students are given theoretical training is immunohistochemistry for validation of biochemical markers of cells/tissues and histological evaluation of tissue structure. The ability to understand and conduct immunohistochemistry and histology experiments is essential to the validation of tissue engineering design. This equipment would allow these methods to be implemented into the course via laboratory and/or final project.

CPB 419 (Biomaterials; existing course – Dr. Amy Yousefi): Biomedical materials are used in cardiovascular, orthopaedic, respiratory, renal, neural, musculoskeletal and other organ systems. The aging population has led to an increased use of biomaterials as substitutes for native tissues. The implantation of polymers, metals, ceramics, and composite materials brings about a unique biological response. Students currently observe histological sections (hematoxylin and eosin; H&E), but are not aware of how these are achieved. Integrating histology analysis flow into the existing microscopy laboratory in CPB 419 will greatly enhance student’s learning motivations.

CPB 423 (Biomechanics; existing course – Dr. Jessica Sparks): Existing laboratories in biomechanics involve taking mechanical measurements on tissue in both tensile (“pull”) and compression (“push”) modes. This equipment would supplement this existing laboratory by allowing students to embed this tissue after conducting these measurements to visualize changes in the cell-level structure. For example, students would be able to investigate the alignment of extracellular protein components following tensile tests to visualize the alignment of fibers. This would also be complimentary to existing mathematical modeling in the course that investigates these effects at the theoretical level.

We note that the requested equipment can be housed within existing laboratories in CPB. We do not anticipate additional space or IT requirements.

How would you describe the innovation and/or the significance of your project: The innovation with this project is primarily related to providing students a traditional modality of assessment (i.e., histology) for comparison to high-level mathematical models, response to implanted materials, biomechanical testing techniques, tissues designed by engineering strategies, or to state-of-the-art imaging technology that requires validation by traditional methods such as histology or immunohistochemistry.

The significance is improved quality and expertise of undergraduate Bioengineering students graduating from Miami. We anticipate that these skills will aid students as they seek employment opportunities in industry (e.g., pharmaceuticals, orthopaedics, medical devices) or during future studies in medical school, graduate school or other health-related advanced degrees.

How will you assess the success of the project: Undergraduate students would use this equipment in existing courses. Therefore, we propose to incorporate specific questions on student evaluations to evaluate student satisfaction with the supplemental learning achieved by incorporation of histological aspects within the course. These evaluations can be compared to previous student feedback on the laboratories where the histological component was not involved.

For graduate students, we would evaluate success based on the use of histological techniques in thesis documents, conference presentations, conference proceedings, and peer-reviewed publications.

Total Amount Requested: $31,500

Budget Details: We are requesting equipment necessary for tissue processing and embedding. In addition to this equipment, we will purchase (from separate department or divisional funds) a microtome necessary for actual sectioning. That is, if this tech fee is funded, all necessary equipment will be present in CPB to carry out the proposed implementation in the Bioengineering curriculum.

  • Leica Automatic Tissue Processor: $30,000
  • Paraffin dispenser: $900
  • Block Wax Trimmer: $400
  • Slide Warmer: $400
  • Total: $31,500

Is this a multi-year request: No

Please address how, if at all, this project impacts any of Miami's BCSAE, 2020, or divisional plans: This request is in-line with 2020 objectives and the Boldly Creative Strategic Initiative.

For the 2020 plan, this request is in-line with the Unifying Goal of “Promot[ing] a vibrant learning and discovery environment that produces extraordinary student and scholarly outcomes.” Specifically, it addresses Objective 1: “Prepar[ing] students for success at Miami and beyond through liberal and applied education emphasizing inquire-based experiential learning that integrates many disciplines.” This equipment is requested for incorporation into the Bioengineering curriculum for the specific purpose of improving the quality of education that our undergraduate students receive so that they can be competitive for employment opportunities in industry or in advanced degree programs. The hands-on opportunities that this equipment would provide is the type of experiential learning necessary for bioengineering students to compete for these opportunities, such application for medical or graduate schools.

In addition to existing courses, this equipment would also aid in enhancing opportunities for a Boldly Creative Initiative that has originated in our department that is currently at the pre-proposal level. We have proposed a program in Clinical Engineering to reach existing bachelor’s students (via a minor), future Miami students (via a Master’s Degree in Clinical Engineering), and non-Miami students (via collaboration with regional players in the healthcare sector). Regardless of the outcomes of the pre-proposal, we are in discussions with 5 local/regional hospitals to obtain internship opportunities for our existing students, which will serve as a platform for the Boldly Creative proposal, should it be funded. The skills provided by the requested equipment is very much in-line with stated needs from our partners regarding student expertise and training. While the students may not be responsible for processing tissues in the way that they would be trained with the proposed equipment, they need to be aware of the types of technologies touched upon by this (and similar) technology to make informed decisions on planning and production activities in the healthcare industry.