Wysk Talks Engineering and Medicine

Professor Rick Wysk shares an industrial engineering perspective on the future of 3-D printed organs

At a luncheon held at Sigma Xi, ISE professor Rick Wysk spoke to a full house of scientists and engineers about ISE’s role in the future of 3-D printed organs.

“I’m here today to talk about making things,” began Dr. Wysk. He continued with the brief history of regrowing human tissues from the earmouse to today’s 3-D printed organs. The Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM), an ISE partner, has already grown and implanted these types of organs in humans. “But how do we go from the earmouse to a complete organ manufacturing systems?” asked Dr. Wysk.

“Developing cells, tissues and organs is an exciting and challenging new field in industrial engineering. At NC State, a team of ISE engineers is one of the first in the world to work with regenerative medicine research groups to examine these issues,” stated Dr. Wysk. “The processes developed at places like WFIRM for creating cells, tissues and organs can be modeled by industrial engineers to scale up production.”

The demand for custom-made replacement organs and tissues has never been greater. At the current rate, a new patient joins the organ donor waiting list every 10 minutes. Compound this with the fact that the rejection rate after transplantation is as high as 50% for some organs. The fact that these organs are manufactured from the patient’s own cells circumvents the problem of transplant rejection. It also eliminates the patient’s need to take anti organ rejection medication for the rest of their life.

Dr. Wysk concluded his presentation with next steps he and the ISE team were taking to someday bring affordable, 3-D printed organ transplants to the marketplace.

About Sigma Xi

Sigma Xi is the international honor society of science and engineering. It is one of the oldest and largest scientific organizations in the world. For over 125 years, Sigma Xi has shown a distinguished history of service to science and society. Colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world are the home to Sigma Xi chapters. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members.