Before Birla began working on the book, he taught tissue engineering courses with PowerPoint presentations, which he put together by collecting articles on the subject, as well as by drawing from his years of laboratory experience.
Without a definitive textbook, he said the education students receive is inconsistent.
"The majority of professors are using articles [to teach], and it's very different from one institution to another. It's based on the experience of the individual instructor," Birla said.
In fact, the curriculum for artificial tissue engineering differs so much from one institution to the next that a standard definition of tissue engineering hasn't existed.
"If you look at what's happening, [the definition of] tissue engineering is so convoluted," Birla said. "One of the exercises we went through was to go through some of the prominent definitions, like the National Science Foundation's and the National Institutes of Health's definitions, as well as the definitions from some of the early researchers in the area.
"Based on that we came up with the commonalities of the definition and what the field involves. From that, I proposed a standard definition of tissue engineering." Birla said he hopes the definition provided in his textbook will become the new standard.
In addition to bringing uniformity to tissue engineering curriculums, Birla said he hopes his textbook will draw more students to the new field.
"My hope is that this textbook will introduce some young people to the field in a way that excites them, so we have many more talented engineers entering into this field and conducting new research," he said.
|Contact: Jeannie Kever|
University of Houston