Hyperthermic bioheat transfer: Research project and education spin-offs

Abstract  The aim of this paper is to present a biomedical research project outline, and a framework for involving undergraduate students in its simpler components. The research project and involvement of the undergraduates are at their nascent stage, and mostly detail current activity at the University of Western Sydney. The research project (essentially, hyperthermal temperature propagation in tissue) endeavors to understand processes involving propagation of a thermal wave through tissue, and its subsequent transformation to necrotic residue. At its basic, it looks at the molecular dynamics to provide physical background to thermal parameters involved in the process, such as thermal conductivity, heat transfer coefficient and heat capacity of the affected tissue. Mathematical model built from such a structure will then be experimentally tested and fine tuned for clinical applications. In the broader context, the research contribution falls into the category of Biomedical Engineering – a well established multi-disciplinary approach to solving complex problems involving living tissue. Devolved into its constituting parts, the
discipline provides opportunities for undergraduate involvement which
is single-discipline specific. The described research project already involves Engineering, Mathematics, Physics, Computing and IT – with potential to engage the UWS School of Medicine and the School of Nanotechnology. As described in the paper,
it is envisaged that coordination with appropriate unit coordinators will help engage undergraduate students in discipline focused endeavors – and thus promote the teaching function of the university. Accordingly, the following disciplines are discussed in the framework of linking the proposed research project to undergraduate program:
1. Biotechnology: Hyperthermia as type of tumour treatment
2. Steady state heat conduction
3. Steady state heat convection
4. Mathematical modeling: thermal wave propagation in solid
5. Biophysics – change of phase and molecular dynamics (MDs) simulation