Advances in biological research hold potential to save patient lives and improve overall quality of life. Biomaterials, such as those used in implants and tissue engineering, have stringent and potentially conflicting specifications (weight, strength, porosity, electrical conductivity, and complex geometries).
The goal of the New Hampshire Center for Multiscale Modeling and Manufacturing of Biomaterials (NH BioMade), made possible by a five-year $20 million federal grant, is to advance the design and manufacture of biomaterials and develop the knowledge to predict and control their composition, structure, properties, and function. The depth of knowledge and engineering innovations advanced by NH BioMade will be transferable to other biomaterials and manufacturing techniques for fundamental and industrially-based research and practice.
NH BioMade will support the rapidly growing New Hampshire biomaterials industry through knowledge generation, academic-industrial research partnerships, and workforce development, enabling rapid advancement in biomaterials design and manufacturing. It is closely aligned with the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute in Manchester.
Building Research Capacity
Addressing opportunities identified in the 2016 NH University Research and Industry Plan, NH BioMade will build research capacity by investing in: 1) intellectual capital through 11 new faculty hires across three institutions; 2) a shared, virtual core facility for high-performance computing, advanced manufacturing, and state-of-the-art biomaterials characterization; and 3) statewide education and training initiatives.
The project will develop new capacity at the state's community colleges, which will bolster their ability to serve as training institutions to supply the STEM workforce for 21st century advanced manufacturing in biomaterials. Research internships and work-based learning opportunities will be provided for high school students, community college students, and undergraduate students at four-year colleges.
NH BioMade includes a strong emphasis on workforce development to attract, train, and retain a more diverse workforce with the knowledge and skills needed to immediately contribute to the workforce and/or continue to higher levels of educational attainment. NH BioMade’s Career Success Initiative will include 1) work-based learning for high school students in career and technical education programs and community college students, 2) research experience internships for undergraduates, and 3) transfer scholarships to support community college students transferring to a four-year degree program. These initiatives provide specific pathways for student entry into the biomaterials manufacturing ecosystem.
Seed funding facilitates high-risk, high-impact research, supports curriculum and training enhancements, and encourages collaboration among academia and industry. Four types of competitively awarded seed funding opportunities will be offered: 1) new, emerging research areas, 2) industry-university collaborations, 3) research on biomaterials that use the new instrumentation and computation core facilities, and 4) developing curriculum in K-12, community colleges, and primarily undergraduate institutions.
One of the key strategies for identifying and pursuing partnerships outside of academia will be establishing and convening the NH BioMade Industrial and State Partnerships Board, which provides a framework to formally coordinate and disseminate knowledge and activities through partnerships between critical stakeholders in academic, industrial, non-profit, and government sectors.
NH BioMade is a five-year EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement project funded by the National Science Foundation. Brad Kinsey, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and interim director of the John Olson Advanced Manufacturing Center, will lead a team of scientists and engineers at UNH and Dartmouth College to conduct cutting-edge research on biomaterials. Education and workforce training efforts will be led by the Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education at UNH, in partnership with the Community College System of NH, Keene State College, and UNH Manchester.