Biofabrication course a world first

Friday, 16 May, 2014

The world’s first international masters in biofabrication is being offered by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), the University of Wollongong, the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands and the University of Würzburg in Germany.

The four universities are all world leaders in biofabrication research and have joined forces to offer a two-year, two-degree masters program whereby graduates will hold a masters degree from an Australian university in addition to a masters degree from a European university.

Biofabrication involves the use of 3D printing to regrow and replace most types of human tissue. The tissues are created in intricate layers using different types of biomaterials to generate individualised structures.

These tailor-made structures are then implanted into the body to act as scaffolds on which new tissue can grow, and as the tissue grows the scaffold dissolves into the body. For example, biofabrication is successfully being used successfully to repair broken and missing bone.

“Each of the four universities has established a track record in key areas of biofabrication, including polymer chemistry, cell biology and clinical implants,” said Professor Dietmar W Hutmacher, who leads QUT’s biofabrication research.

“Biofabrication can be used to repair cartilage, bone, muscles, nerves and skin that have been damaged by trauma, disease or cancer. It is even predicted that entire organs will be biofabricated within a few decades.”

Each of the four universities will admit 10 students to the degree. Australian students will spend nine to 12 months studying at one of the European universities and European students would also study at one of the Australian universities.

Professor Gordon Wallace, director of the University of Wollongong’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, said graduates of the masters program would be in high demand.

Professor Hutmacher said biofabrication is a multidisciplinary area of research that required an understanding of chemistry, physics, biology, medicine, robotics and computer science, and welcomed graduates in these fields to apply for the masters degree.

The masters in biofabrication is supported by the Australian Government and the European Union.

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