Thesis defense: “Engineering Flesh”

Short abstract of thesis:
“Biomedical engineering practices articulate a specific normative perspective on the body. While in daily life people live their body as themselves, biomedical engineers study bodies as machine-like objects. This perspective puts a stamp on engineering decisions and on the specific technologies that are developed. This book deals with the questions how normative work of biomedical engineers affects the way people experience their bodies and how biomedical engineers can take and shape professional responsibility for this kind of normative work with respect to bodies. To answer these questions the study focuses on one specific project, namely the development of a tissue-engineered heart valve. The book reconstructs how engineers in creating living body part substitutes from cells develop standards for ‘good tissue’ and how their choices affect the opportunities for patients as lived bodies. After all, the quality of a heart valve has implications for enabling sporting activities or going through pregnancy. Based on these findings, it is concluded that professional responsibility for tissue engineering should not be limited to issues of functionality and safety of tissue-engineered body parts, but should also include the way engineering choices affect lived bodies.”