Santa Clara University


New State-of-the-Art Labs for Bioengineering

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The Bioengineering Program has three new laboratories, a prep room, and a new computer lab for student use and faculty research. “Students are learning by working with state-of-the-art instruments and equipment using cutting-edge technology,” said Zhiwen (Jonathan) Zhang, bioengineering associate professor.

Biomolecular and Cellular Engineering Laboratory: This wet lab features standing and desktop centrifuges, a nanodrop for biodevice engineering, sonicator for breaking cells with high frequency ultrasound, UV illuminator, FPLC protein purifier, protein separators, deep freezers, fume hood, and more. “Here, we can grow lower organisms such as E. coli in incubators and study them, teaching students the proper procedures and stringent rules for dealing with biohazardous materials,” said Zhang.

Tissue Engineering Laboratory: This space hosts facilities for teaching and research in cell manipulation and tissue engineering; it includes two rooms outfitted to support the culture of a variety of mammalian cells including transformed, primary, and stem cells. The cleanroom is equipped with laminar flow hoods, CO₂ incubators for mammalian tissue culture, centrifuges, light and fluorescent microscopes, and -20ºC and -80ºC freezers. The prep room houses a microplate reader, PCR machine, and gel electrophoresis equipment for protein and nucleic acid separations.

Biomaterials Engineering Laboratory: This lab is outfitted with state of the art equipment to develop and characterize biomaterial nanocomposites for end use in tissue engineering and biotechnology. General equipment includes bath sonicators for evenly dispersing nanoparticles in liquids, centrifuges, heating blocks, vortexes, shakers and stir-plates. The lab will soon feature a rotational rheometer for mechanical characterization of biomaterial scaffolds.

Bioengineering Teaching Laboratory: A suite of computers contributes to student learning through in silico experiments (performed on a computer or via computer simulation). Plans for this space include a 3D biocomputational lab.

“These new laboratories provide a tremendous opportunity for enhanced collaboration between departments within the School of Engineering as well as with the Departments of Biology and Chemistry and the University’s Center for Nanostructures,” said Assistant Professor Prashanth Asuri.

“We encourage students to get in the labs, work with the cells, and do hands-on experiments,” said Zhang. “Our goal is to have our bioengineers leave Santa Clara ready for graduate study or to begin their careers in industry with the knowledge and experience that puts them ahead of their peers. With these state-of-the-art facilities, we can do that.”

“The Bioengineering program at SCU has experienced a tremendous rate of growth in recent years” said Yuling Yan, associate professor and director of the bioengineering program. Thanks to the generous support received from the Fletcher Jones Foundation, along with that from the University and the School of Engineering, these new laboratories are now fully operational and will significantly strengthen the research training component of the BioE curriculum.

Photo Caption: Students conduct experiment with E. Coli in the new Biomolecular and Cellular Engineering Laboratory. Credit: Charles Barry