91237 - Polymeric Materials for Life Science

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Photochemistry and Molecular Materials (cod. 9074)

Learning outcomes

At the end of this Course the student will have a deep knowledge of the properties of the main polymeric materials that are used in the biomedical and pharmaceutical field. In particular the student will gain basic knowledge regarding the principles of biocompatibility and biodegradability of the polymeric materials that are used for regenerative medicine and drug release applications.

Course contents

1. INTRODUCTION. Polymeric materials for life science: definitions. History. Biocomatibility, bioactivity, bioinertness and methods of assessment in vitro and in vivo.

2. Interactions between polymeric biomaterials and biological tissues.

3. Classification of polymeric materials:

  • Synthetic polymeric materials
  • Natural polymeric materials
  • Bioresorbable materials. Biodegradation process.

4. Structure-properties correlation and sectors of application of the main classes of polymeric biomaterials. Problems related to the design, the processing and the use of polymeric materials in the biomedical field as medical devices, for applications in the following sectors: cardio-vascular; orthopedic; ophthalmologist; surgery of soft tissues; artificial skin and wound dressing; artificial organs.

5. Role of water: hydrogels and polyelectrolytes:

  • classes of hydrogels
  • characterization of viscoelastic properties of hydrogels

6. Functionalization and surface modification of polymeric biomaterials.

7..Bacterial adhesion on polymeric materials and sterilization. Effect of sterilization on the properties of polymeric biomaterials

8. Regenerative medicine and tissue engineering:

  • Introduction to tissue engineering
  • Polymeric scaffolds
  • Main requirements of scaffolds
  • Techniques for scaffold fabrication

9. Membranes for dialysis and artificial kidney

10. Drug release and soluble polymers as drug carriers.




The lesson's notes will be fundamental.

Teaching material (scientific books, literature articles and power point presentations) will be distributed during lessons and it will available on line (Moodle platform).

Among suggested books: Biomaterials Science: An Introduction to Materials in Medicine, Buddy D. Ratner, Academic Press.

Teaching methods

Room lectures.

The students will be provided with copy of the material shown during lecturing.

Presentations will be available for the students through Moodle platform.

Short presentations of researchers from both industrial and public healthcare structures, will be planned during lessons, to illustrate professional experiences and to examine in depth specific thematics.

A visit to a company of the Biomedical District in Mirandola will be performed.

Students will be invited to prepare power point presentations on specific themes to illustrate during the lessons.

Attendance to course lessons is strongly recommended to understand the most fundamental aspects of the subject and the correlations among the different parts of the programme.

As concerns the teaching methods of this course unit, all students must attend Module 1, 2 [https://www.unibo.it/en/services-and-opportunities/health-and-assistance/health-and-safety/online-course-on-health-and-safety-in-study-and-internship-areas] online, while Module 3 on health and safety is to be attended in class. Information about Module 3 attendance schedule is available on the website of your degree programme.


Assessment methods

Learning assessment is based on oral examination at the end of the course. The oral examination will last around 30 minutes.

The oral examination will take into account the ability of the student to make connections among the various parts of the course programme and to design polymeric materials and products for specific applications in the biomedcal field, on the basis of the acquired knowledge.

Questions, during the examination, will be related to the following main program sections: (a) knowledge of the definition of biocompatible, bio-inert and bio-active material; (b) knowledge of the interaction among polymeric materials (both synthetic and natural) and the biological tissues of the human body. (c) design of the biomedical device suitable for the specific application, starting from the right choice of the polymeric material; (d) processing of the polymeric materials to produce biomedical devices; (e) potential scientific and social feedback of the use of specific categories of polymeric materials in the biomedical and biotechnological field.

The final mark will be based also on the presentations that students will prepare during the lessons.

Good language properties and the ability to make connections among the different parts of the programme will involve a higher score.

Teaching tools

Lectures with the aid of PC, projector.

Short presentations of researchers from both industrial and public healthcare structures, will be planned during lessons, to illustrate professional experiences and to examine in depth specific thematics.

Office hours

See the website of Maria Letizia Focarete


Good health and well-being Industry, innovation and infrastructure

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.