Biomaterials concern the development and selection of appropriate materials to place inside the human body. Such selection ranks among the most difficult tasks faced by biomedical engineers. It demands an understanding of the physical and chemical properties of the living tissue that a material will assist or replace. The material to be implanted must cause no harmful effects, such as poisonous reactions or cancer. In turn, the body must not damage the materials of the implant. For most devices implanted for a long period of time, the materials must be chemically inactive, durable enough to withstand the repeated stresses of a lifetime, and harmless to the tissues and blood. Implantable materials include certain ceramics, metal alloys, and plastics.
In addition, the Biomaterials track includes aspects of biochemical engineering, tissue engineering, and biotechnology. Biochemical engineering involves biotechnology and processes that convert natural materials such as sugars into molecules such as therapeutic proteins, and harnessing the synthetic capabilities of cells and genetic engineering. Tissue engineering is the study of tissue dynamics that coordinate tissue repair, replacement, and reconstruction. Biotechnology involves the production of medicaments and vaccines, as well as in, the emergence of stem-cell and gene therapies. Examples include antibiotics produced by specially designed organisms and genetic cures engineered through genomic manipulation.