Bioprinting: Building Machines that Build Bits of Us – #HITsm Chat Topic

We’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 1/29 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Chuck Webster, MD (@wareflo) on the topic “Bioprinting: Building Machines that Build Bits of Us“.

I got my degree in Artificial Intelligence because it was the closest I could get to the science fiction I love to read. Today, if I was just starting out, I’d study bioprinting and biofabrication for the same reason.

What if we could repair humans as easily as Westworld repairs humanoid robots? It would revolutionize medicine! Believe it or not, researchers are making substantial progress toward exactly this goal. For example, 3D-printed living ears have been transplanted onto children with underdeveloped external ears. 3D-printed living bone, skin, and corneas are in clinical trials. 3D-printed heart, lung, liver, kidney, ovaries, and muscles are being developed, though not yet in clinical trials.

“Bioprinting” uses a computer-controlled device to accurately deposit cells and biomaterials into 3D relationships to create anatomically correct biological structures. A “bio-ink” is a hydrogel (Jell-O is a hydrogel) containing living cells, nutrients, and growth factors (to stimulate cell proliferation, differentiation, and repair) that is extruded through the nozzle of a bioprinter. Just as my home 3D printer squirts plastic into computer-controlled 3D shapes; a bioprinter squirts bio-ink into 3D biological shapes.

Bioprinting is an example of biofabrication, (take a deep breath!) “The automated generation of biologically functional products with structural organization from living cells, bioactive molecules, biomaterials, cell aggregates such as micro-tissues, or hybrid cell-material constructs, through bioprinting or bioassembly and subsequent tissue maturation processes.” (Phew!) Applications range from mRNA printers (they print on-demand vaccines from digital instructions) to 3D-printed meat (yum!) to even the creation of living organisms, so-called multi-cellular engineered living systems (M-CELS). By the way, please join me in attending a free NSF sponsored, virtual workshop on M-CELS June 1-3.

This #HITsm Twitter chat is a bit different in that it is about a subject in which most HITsm participants are not experts. So, during the tweetchat I’ll tweet out tweets introducing bioprinting concepts and practical applications.  Feel free to answer, respond, and most importantly, ask questions! I’ll do my best answer them.

Join us for this week’s #HITsm chat where we’ll discuss the following topics.

Topics for this week’s #HITsm Chat:

T1: Where will bioprinting human organs and tissues fit into health IT workflow? Start with someone who needs an organ, bone, or tissue… What patient-specific info needs to be captured, tracked, and acted upon, and when? Feel free to make lots of assumptions! #HITsm

T2: Millions of mechanical robots serve us. Eventually we may build millions of multi-cellular engineered living systems (M-CELS) to serve us. While this may sound like science fiction, most of today’s technologies once sounded like science fiction too. Thoughts? Concerns? #HITsm

T3: On a scale of 1-to-5, how enthusiastic would you be to taste test a 3D-printed steak touted to have texture, flavor, & appearance as an actual beef steak, at the same price as the real thing? #HITsm Ethical vegetarian? What if steak is grown from your own cells? #CreepyCool?

T4: COVID-19 will not be our last pandemic. @CEPIvaccines recently awarded $34M to build a prototype of a just-in-time vaccine printer. How much should we be willing to spend to be able to go from virus ID to effective vaccine at a national scale in less than a month? #HITsm

T5: Many health IT marketing content providers don’t just write about HIT; they also write about exciting new developments important to human health. Write a headline connecting today’s #HITsm topic to your favorite HIT product or service. Me? Bioprinting Is The New Workflow!

Bonus: Let’s try a #HITsm #TwitterPoll! 5 years from now, your quirkily brilliant MIT Ph.D’d relative gives you w/a top-of-the-line $200K bioprinter. You…
1. Install it in your 2nd bedroom
2. Give to local education institution
3. Sell it on Ebay!
4. Something else (reply!)

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule

2/5 – Interoperability with COVID
Hosted by Richard Bagdona (@richardbagdonas)

2/12 – Detecting (and Avoiding) Misinformation
Hosted by Janice McCallum (@janicemccallum)

2/19 – Implementation of Technology for Care Coordination
Hosted by Neelam Sharma, RHIT (@Nee2Sha)

2/26 – TBD
Hosted by Mandi Bishop (@MandiBPro)

3/5 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

3/12 – How Can a Digital Workforce Address Healthcare’s Challenges?
Hosted by Linda Stotsky (@EMRAnswers) from @Bossoft

3/19 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always, let us know if you’d like to host a future #HITsm chat or if you know someone you think we should invite to host.

If you’re searching for the latest #HITsm chat, you can always find the latest #HITsm chat and schedule of chats here.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

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