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MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause



MUSC machine shop facilities research in regenerative medicine

The rapidly developing research focus at MUSC in regenerative medicine, which offers the potential to make “replacement parts” for the human body grown from a patient’s own cells. MUSC is fortunate to have a Research Machine Shop Facility operated under the auspices of the Office of the Associate Provost for Research, Stephen Lanier, Ph.D., to assist researchers in building custom equipment needed for cutting edge research. It also provides the capability for modification and repair of existing equipment.

The Researcher
Bioengineering professor Dr. Xuejun Wen, left, graduate student Van Tran, right, and machinist Johnny Mole discuss the development of an instrument designed to do 3D printing of the mineral scaffold for bioengineered bone.

Xuejun Wen, M.D., Ph.D., a member of the faculty of the Clemson-MUSC Bioengineering Program is working to develop the capability to generate bones. Van Tran, a Ph.D. student working with Wen, is assembling a custom “three-dimensional printer” using parts made by the machine shop as well as a variety of other commercially available components.

How it Works
This instrument will generate the “mineral scaffold” for growing bones from bone cells. A computer generated drawing of the required bone shape is converted to a series of computer instructions for the instrument to build the scaffold by fusing fine grains of mineral material with a high powered laser beam focused to a very small area. This project, typical of the area of bioengineering, weds a series of areas of engineering, computer science, laser science, mechanics, chemistry, and biology to produce an instrument to make bones for therapeutic uses.

Wen, recently appointed Center of Economic Excellence Endowed Professor of Bioengineering, said the success of any bioengineering research program is greatly dependent on the on-campus machining and microfabrication facility. “We are very fortunate to have a professional machine shop on our medical school campus.”

Did you know
The Machine Shop Facility provides services in design, construction, modification, and repair of research equipment. Capabilities include computer- assisted design, inert gas welding and sheet metal fabrication.

Constructed in Dan Knapp’s laboratory, the facility can provide laser micromachining with ability to drill holes down to 10 microns. Researchers with machine shop needs may contact Johnny Mole, machinist (792-9077, molejj@ or Knapp, Ph.D. (792-5830,

Friday, Dec. 10, 2010

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