The eel cells perform that feat on a much grander scale. But the difference is like going from a string quartet to a musician orchestra; the music may be the same, but the challenge is getting everybody to play together. With time running short the team decided to break up into smaller groups to come up with solutions to creating the power pack, which we split into biological, material, and electrical.
To avoid an immune response the cells would have to be walled off from the rest of the body, making it difficult to supply the cells with oxygen and nutrients. Stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they can turn into other types of cells, given the right chemical cues. The plan was to first direct stem cells to become muscle, and then chemically divert them down the path to nerve cell.
This would be a major challenge, said Jenifer Elisseeff, a bioengineer at Johns Hopkins University, but not an impossible one. In the last decade scientists have become increasingly adept at coaxing stem cells to morph into other types of tissue. To recreate this configuration the group proposed using a microfabricated material with tiny built-in cups for each of the cells.
The material could be coated with chemicals that promote cell adherence and correct orientation. The final, and perhaps most complex, aspect of our biological power pack was the electrical power itself. He said the idea was feasible, but that it would have to overcome several technical hurdles. To generate an electrical current the cells pump charged ions in and out of their cytoplasm. The resulting electrolyte soup could dissipate any electricity the cells produce. Fedder also said the system would have to be designed in such a way that only the first and last cells in the series make contact with the electrical circuitry.
Thus, the cells needed to be insulated, adding another layer of complexity to the design. With these considerations accounted for the group took the idea to the other conference attendees. At a scientific talk the best way to gauge interest is by the number of questions audience members ask afterward—the more, the better.
By that standard ours was a resounding success, as the moderator had to cut off questions to allow time for other task groups to present. Many of the questions were skeptical, but none brushed aside the idea as quackery. The group plans to apply for a small seed grant from the Keck Foundation. But he said the task group meetings allowed the group to come together in a way that makes future collaboration easier, no matter the focus. Representatives from public and private funding organizations, government, industry, and the science media also participated in the task groups.
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This book provides a summary of the conference task groups. For more information about the conference, visit the Smart Prosthetics conference site. The National Academies Keck Futures Initiative was launched in to stimulate new modes of scientific inquiry and break down the conceptual and institutional barriers to interdisciplinary research. The National Academies and the W. Keck Foundation believe considerable scientific progress and social benefit will be achieved by providing a counterbalance to the tendency to isolate research within academic fields.
The Futures Initiative is designed to enable researchers from different disciplines to focus on new questions upon which they can base entirely new research, and to encourage better communication between scientists as well as between the scientific community and the public. Keck Foundation, the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative is a year effort to catalyze interdisciplinary inquiry and to enhance communication among researchers, funding agencies, universities, and the general public with the object of stimulating interdisciplinary research at the most exciting frontiers.
The Futures Initiative builds on three pillars of vital and sustained research: interdisciplinary encounters that counterbalance specialization and isolation; the identification and exploration of new research topics; and communication that bridges languages, cultures, habits of thought, and institutions. For more information about the Initiative, visit www.
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Preview this Book. Bronzino, Donald R. Add to Wish List. Close Preview. Toggle navigation Additional Book Information. Description Table of Contents Author s Bio. Summary Known as the bible of biomedical engineering, The Biomedical Engineering Handbook, Fourth Edition , sets the standard against which all other references of this nature are measured.
Shuler, Sarina G. Harris, Xinran Li, and Mandy B. Fisher and Robert A. Johnson Silks; Monica A. Serban and David L.