The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines bioengineering as an interdisciplinary field that applies physical, chemical, and mathematical sciences and engineering principles to the study of biology, medicine, behavior, and health. Bioengineering advances knowledge from the molecular to the organ systems level, and develops new and novel biologics, materials, processes, implants, devices, and informational approaches for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, for patient rehabilitation, and for improving health.

Enormous contributions to the advancement of health care have been made through bioengineering. It has been instrumental in establishing the United States as the world leader in health care technology, as evidenced by a $4.6 billion trade surplus for this sector in 1993. The field, through basic and applied research and technology assessment, has given us such devices as the pacemaker, orthopedic implants, and noninvasive diagnostic imaging. Bioengineers have developed new processes for manufacturing products in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. An example is the manufacturing of human insulin, the first product based on recombinant DNA technology, where bioengineering was critical to the ability to commercialize the product.

These continuing contributions and unprecedented growth, focus, and opportunity in bioengineering will be a continuing frontier and opportunity for the United States and the world.

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