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Unit information: Biomaterials and their Use in the Skeletal System in 2020/21

Unit name Biomaterials and their Use in the Skeletal System
Unit code CSSBM0002
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Uney
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


The aim of this unit is to introduce the student to the current and potential uses for biomaterial interfaces as they relate to the study of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. Content will cover the principles of desirable biomaterials and the potential applications of these compounds in stem cell and regenerative medicine.

This unit will describe:

  • What biomaterials are and how they are produced.
  • Tailored 2-D and 3-D stem cell cultures.
  • Using biomaterials to improve stem cell transplant techniques and regeneration.
  • Illustrations of how biomaterials can be utilised in using stem cells within the skeletal system and specifically for skeletal diseases.
  • To provide a basic grounding in the concept of biomaterials.
  • To provide a basic understanding of tissue engineering approaches.
  • To inform how biomaterials may be used to produce desirable 2-D and 3-D constructs to study potential therapeutic strategies and improve their utility in vivo.
  • To illustrate the practical skills involved in biomaterial based cell culture.
  • To illustrate translational research where biomaterials have facilitated the used of stem cells in treating skeletal system disorders.

Intended learning outcomes

Students successfully completing this module will:

  • Be aware of the benefits and potential pitfalls of biomaterials approaches in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.
  • Understand the complexities of 3-D cell-culture (tissue engineering) techniques.
  • Be able to describe the properties of a desirable biomaterial and understand how to grow cells on this.
  • Be able to describe studies where biomaterials have facilitated the use of stem cells in a clinical setting.

Teaching details

  • Web-based Audio Lectures and Seminars.
  • Web-based tutorials/practicals
  • Self-directed study
  • On-line discussion forums

Assessment Details

Summative Assessment:

  • Coursework (contributing a total of 100% to the unit).
  • 4 sets of multiple choice questions (MCQ) of a simple format (e.g. select an answer from a short number of options, true/false) each contributing 15% to unit giving a total of 60%.
  • 2x short answer question sets or extended MCQs each contributing 20% to module giving a total of 40%

Please note that students will be given formative feedback on all coursework assessment where appropriate.

Reading and References

For each lecture, seminar, tutorial students will be given a reading list composed of journal and review articles, websites and book chapters. Due to the novelty of this field and the postgraduate nature of this programme we do not feel there are suitable textbooks to recommend for this module.