MIT OpenCourseWare



The principles and practice of tissue engineering (and regenerative medicine) are taught by faculty of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, (and their guest lecturers) to students of the three institutions simultaneously using the televised sessions. The principles underlying strategies for employing selected cells, biomaterial scaffolds, soluble regulators or their genes, and mechanical loading and culture conditions, for the regeneration of tissues and organs in vitro and in vivo are addressed. Differentiated cell types and stem cells are compared and contrasted for this application, as are natural and synthetic scaffolds. Methodology for the preparation of cells and scaffolds in practice is described. The rationale for employing selected growth factors is covered and the techniques for incorporating their genes into the scaffolds are examined. Discussion also addresses the influence of environmental factors including mechanical loading and culture conditions (e.g., static versus dynamic). Methods for fabricating tissue-engineered products and devices for implantation are taught. Examples of tissue engineering-based procedures currently employed clinically are analyzed as case studies.

"Take Home Messages"

Students will have learned how to apply tissue engineering principles to the solution of medical problems requiring the regeneration of tissue, and the methods for the fabrication of tissue-engineered products. They will have exercised this knowledge in a Term Report requiring them to select certain cells, scaffolds, cytokines, and culture conditions individually or in combination to address a specific clinical problem.


By presenting these topics in one subject, students will have the opportunity of learning details of certain aspects of tissue engineering and be able to place them in the broader context of the overall strategic approach used to solve a clinical problem. By presenting the practice as well as the principles, students will come to appreciate the real-world difficulties encountered in translational research.

The impact of a subject taught jointly by faculty of Tsinghua University and HST relates to the very demonstration of the universality of tissue engineering principles and practice. The benefits to the students of each institution in Beijing and in Boston relate to the appreciation of the similarities and differences in the way in which tissue engineering may be implemented for the solution of clinical problems (e.g., affected by health care philosophies, economic issues, and other cultural factors).

Class Sessions

Students at MIT/Harvard and Tsinghua will attend the same 90-minutes lecture each week. The televised lectures and discussion, all of which will be conducted in English, will be held from 8:00-9:30 AM (Boston time), which will be 8:00-9:30 PM of the same day at Tsinghua (in Beijing). Prior to the class session all students will be given a reading assignment and access to the presenters' Microsoft® PowerPoint® slide presentation on a Harvard Web site that has been established. At least 30 minutes of class time will be used for discussion, with interaction via teleconferencing and e-mail. Students will also be encouraged to communicate with each other by e-mail for the purpose of group study sessions.


The final grade will be determined by the following:

Quiz 1 30%
Quiz 2 30%
Term Report 30%
Homework (10 Homework Assignments) 10%


Each quiz will be 90 minutes in length and cover the information presented and discussed in class and in the homework sets. Any notes can be used during the quiz. Quiz 2 will focus on material presented and discussed during the second half of the subject but some reference may be made to material discussed in the first half of the course.

Term Report

The term report will be 12 pages, written in English. The 12-page limit includes all text, images and references. The Report will describe a tissue engineering approach for the production of a tissue or organ (i.e., a structure comprising 2 or more tissues) of the student's selection. The Report will be due as a Microsoft® Word document sent as an attachment to an e-mail message to Professors Cui and Spector by 5:00 PM (Boston time) on Lecture 12.

Credit for Subject

The subject is allocated 8 assigned units, reflecting the minimum number of hours per week that the students will be engaged in class-related activities: 1 ½ hours in class and 6 ½ hours out of class studying the materials presented in class and posted on the Web site, working on homework sets, and working on the Term Report.


The subject is taught as a first-year graduate level course for students with engineering and science backgrounds, and students enrolled in medical school. As prerequisites students should have had subjects covering concepts of cellular biology and surveying the composition and properties of materials. The course directors can assist in determining if such prerequisites are met by individual subjects at the respective institutions.

Reading Materials

Readings for the subject will comprise lecture notes, Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides, journal articles, and selections from textbooks.

Other MIT Subjects Addressing Tissue Engineering

Tissue engineering is such a broad field encompassing principles from so many disciplines that no one subject can deal with all of its aspects in meaningful depth. There is some overlap of certain tissue engineering concepts presented in HST.535 with topics presented in other subjects offered at MIT and Tsinghua. However, HST.535 will address several topics not dealt with in other subjects and other topics will be discussed in greater depth in HST.535. Moreover, some topics will benefit from their inclusion in a subject exclusively focused on tissue engineering.

Following are other MIT subjects addressing tissue engineering in their curriculum and the course related to tissue engineering at Tsinghua University:

MIT Subjects Addressing Tissue Engineering
10.449 / BE.360 Cell and Tissue Engineering L. Griffith /
H. Lodish
2.79J / 3.96J / BE.441J / HST.522J Biomaterials-Tissue Interactions M. Spector /
I. Yannas
2.782J / 3.961J / BE.451J / HST.524J Design of Medical Devices / Implants M. Spector /
I. Yannas
Course Related to Tissue Engineering at Tsinghua University
70350132 Biomaterials Science F. Z. Cui /
Q. L. Feng


Supported by an unrestricted educational gift from Geistlich Biomaterials, Wolhusen, Switzerland.