Biomedical engineering is a fairly recently recognized field of study. While the mechanics of it have been around for a while, it has until only a little while ago been considered more of an interdisciplinary study, one that look two disparate fields and tried to use one to enhance the study of the other. The truth is though, that as a field unto itself, biomedical engineering is at the forefront of the expansion of our medical knowledge.
Application of Biomedical Engineering
The most common application of biomedical engineering is the development of diagnostic and imaging machines that can be used by doctors in order to get a clearer idea of what may be wrong with a patient, but there are many more applications. The creation of biocompatible prostheses, for example, or micro-implants. Regenerative tissue growth also falls under this category, as would the creation of certain types of pharmaceuticals. The Biomedical Engineering Society describes several more applications and directions that current research is headed in the field.
What's Involved ?
As a field, biomedical engineering is largely research-based, requiring a lot of time in the lab either working on experiments to test the viability of a certain treatment or method, or solving engineering problems. For example, several years ago a small team of students at MIT developed a material with pico-scopic peaks that significantly slowed down blood coagulation while in contact with it but seemed smooth to the human touch. That material is being employed now in other experiments to see if it can be used internally on the human body, since it could cut down on unwanted clotting, especially if it is used to repair the heart.
Of course, biomedical engineering also includes working to improve the function of almost every major biological system, which includes sub-disciples like neural engineering, cardiovascular engineering, and the ever-popular genetic engineering, which seeks to improve on the very building blocks of life itself.
How It Is Viewed In The World
The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering has a number of different projects that are currently in process and being funded by this particular government agency. They point out areas of the field that others might not have considered, such as mathematical modeling and developing new ways to store, organize, understand, and transmit biological data. The advantage to this particular website is that it has a list of number of grants that are currently ongoing for certain projects, including a number of longitudinal studies and long-term projects, so people can see the type of work being explored by scientists around the country.
It's clear that biomedical engineering is a very wide field with several approaches to being a part of it. A biomedical engineering degree means that you have several choices for how you want to apply the skills you've learned toward building a better body for everyone.