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Why a Biocompatibility and Cell culture Laboratory at the Polytechnic of Milan

It might sound unusual the choice to set up a Biocompatibility and Cell culture laboratory at the Polytechnic of Milan, a place crowded of engineers, architects, designers but with an irrelevant presence of biologists. Nevertheless, this decision is undoubtedly crucial to effectively perform the teaching and research activities in fields as biomaterials, tissue engineering, cellular response modelling and biotechnologies. Obviously, similar laboratories are already operating at medical and biological faculties and research centres, surely with better competence and higher financial resources than a technical university as the Polytechnic of Milan. Collaborations with some of these laboratories are already in place and are likely to be increased in the future but some of their biological skills are now required to be available at the Polytechnic mainly for two reasons. Firstly, one of the most attended courses of Biomedical Engineer (and probably not only) in Italy has been activated few years ago that the Polytechnic and every year about two hundred bioengineers are graduated. It is no more acceptable that a structure that prepares a such relevant number of bioengineers does not allow them to “interact” at least once with cells or support with the appropriate facilities degree thesis projects on fields where the bioengineers have to be involved in the future. Secondly, in spite of the approach adopted so far, the current requirements for novel biomaterial design and production are strictly related to the characterisation of the biological response they provoke once in contact with the cells. Therefore an effective development of innovative biomaterials needs a continuos and deep interaction between both engineers and biologists which will bring their specific knowledge to the material final properties optimisation. For these reasons, both the Departments of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering “Giulio Natta” and the Department of Bioengineering have jointly set up the Biocompatibility and Cell culture Laboratory (BioCell), now located at the Campus “Mancinelli”, available to researchers working in the Politecnico but also to students attending the degree courses of Material Engineering and Biomedical engineering.