The “bone-on-a-chip” is a small, patient-specific two-dimensional chip that will emulate bone microarchitecture and function in vitro. It will essentially serve as a non-invasive and inexpensive alternative to the traditional approach of studying the effects of drug treatment on bones. It will also provide a novel in vitro patient-specific method of osteological experimentation, utilizing high-resolution MRI images to construct the bone structure. By recreating true, vascularized bone inside of this chip, bone structure and content will be natural and allow for proper, translatable studies to be conducted. The bone-on-a-chip will utilize 3D printing to create the complex bone structure. This project hopes to push the edge of technology and create a device that will increase the efficiency of many R&D programs, helping patients receive the necessary and safe care faster.
I have learned a great deal through my research experience. I have learned a variety of technical skills and knowledge from generating 3D models to learning about bone structure. This experience also gave me the chance to train my engineering mindset. Throughout the last semester, I have had to solve many problems with new technology like our 3D printer. And with new technology, comes very little guidance and so I had to tinker and explore the printer myself. After exclusively using the printer for a whole semester, I have learned how it works and how to fix its plethora of issues. This has given me the chance to interact with technology from an engineering perspective, rather than simply loading a file and pressing print. In addition to the engineering skills, I also learned more about biomaterials, especially the material used to print the bone: PCL. Outside of science I have also learned a great deal about presentation and communication, presenting at multiple opportunities and communicating with companies like BioBots, who advise on the larger issues involving their 3D printer.
As mentioned before, the research experience has helped train my engineering mindset, giving me the opportunity to solve issues. This mindset helped me in my engineering courses, particularly some of my labs and programming classes. I have gained a great deal of leadership and management skills as I am leading this project. This skill helps in all of my educational experiences, particularly group projects and presentations. Conversely, it has also given me the chance to use the skills I learned in class, such as CAD, biomaterials, MATLAB, and biomechanics. Overall, my research experience has been holistic and rewarding.