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Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials Engineering Research Center

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NSF Engineering Research Center for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials  (North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University)

Research Focus & Anticipated Benefits


The vision of this ERC is Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials and the underlying technologies. This will lead to engineered systems that will interface with the human body to prolong and improve quality of life.

The strategic goal will use the ERC Program's 3-plane strategic planning chart to display its strategic goals and the integration of its research program, accompanied by a milestone chart depicting the major deliverables through time and their interdependencies.

The major goals and objectives are to achieve excellence in the proposed areas of research through a true interdisciplinary approach within and with leading nano/bioengineering research institutions; establish a new generation of revolutionary biological interface materials with enabling sciences and technologies; improve Ph.D. graduation rates in nano/bio research, especially among African-American students, women and socially and economically disadvantaged students; train the 21st century STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) workforce (pre-college and college) and provide students with technical education relevant to 21st-century careers in advanced processing and materials. The center facilitates economic development through innovation to radically change the way diseases are treated, strengthen the position of the U.S. health care system, and generate revolutionary technologies via sharing of resources and knowledge to create a pathway to improve the quality of life.


The research will focus on using advanced materials and frontier technologies to regenerate biological functions rather than ameliorating symptoms. This will be achieved through the intertwining of carefully planned, cutting edge research, education, and economic development activities on a global level among partner institutions to create engineered systems:

(I) Craniofacial and Orthopedic Applications
(II) Cardiovascular Devices
(III) Responsive Biosensors for Implants

These engineered systems will arise out of four cross-cutting enabling technology thrusts (ETTs):

  1. Biodegradable Metals
  2. Biofunctional Surface Modification
  3. Sensors and Controlled Degradation
  4. Controlled Release

These technology thrusts, in turn, are based on strong cross-cutting research in the fundamental sciences across all dimensional scales.

The fundamental research areas of multi-scale materials synthesis, bio-interfacial science, biomechanics, and clinical pathophysiology will be performed in the ETTs, which will drive the three engineered systems testbeds described above. The testbeds are designed as proving grounds with the versatility and adaptability to translate the ETTs into engineered systems. The whole premise of this ERC, therefore, is to revolutionize metallic biomaterials and smart coatings with built-in responsive biosensory capabilities which can adapt to biological changes.


Education & Outreach


The goal of the ERC's university education programs is to prepare a highly diverse and globally experienced and innovative engineering workforce for the U.S. biomedical implant industry and university faculty in engineering and medicine. 


The ERC will train future generations of engineers in a unique, multi-disciplinary, innovation-oriented environment. The approach will integrate traditional and emerging engineering disciplines with industrial experience, experience with medicine along with exposure to social, regulatory, ethical and economic issues involved in innovation in a medical context. In collaboration with its innovation partners, the ERC will develop curricular materials to train engineering students in the art and science of fostering research innovation, and will enable them to work alongside teams engaged in medical implant innovation in Europe and India to provide them with globally competitive entrepreneurial skills.  Students from the lead and two partner universities, and three outreach institutions: California State University, Los Angeles Edmonds Community College, Seattle, WA, and Guilford Technical community College, Greensboro, NC will benefit from these education programs as well.  Undergraduate students from universities outside the ERC's partners will be involved in the ERC through a Research Experiences for Undergraduates(REU) Program.


The pre-college educational partnership is taking greater shape every year. Partnerships have been formed with several area schools and communities in North Carolina. 
The NCAT team is increasing teacher expertise in bioengineering through Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program, where the ERC offers research experiences every summer, with stipends for at least two teachers from each participating middle and high school. A pilot program for High school students (Young Scholars) is beginning to work and will develop Web-based lab experiments and video-based materials and materials for class projects, illustrating fundamental scientific and engineering principles. The ERC plans to extend the geographical reach of these initiatives through a traveling display (van-based) and an extensive cyberinfrastructure.  

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  • Image from a National Science Foundation-funded ERC.
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