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Wake Forest: Printing Spare (Body) Parts

VICE News visits Wake Forest University’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine to learn how 3D printing is being leveraged to not only create prosthetics but fully realized replacement body parts made from human tissue. As this technology develops and scales, issues of organ and tissue shortages could become a thing of the past. At the same time, ethical questions about printing entire human bodies (touched on in science fiction like West World) become very real.

Assignment Idea: Organ Engineering


Evolution has determined that humans do not have the powers of regeneration. Tissue and organ engineering was once only written about in science fiction novels and shown in movies. Now the field of biosciences has opened the way for regenerative medicine that can revolutionize healthcare as replacement tissues and organs become available in clinical therapies. Imagine the time when organ transplant lists are no longer an issue, when loved ones have the potential to live longer, and military personnel and the disabled are given a second chance to walk, talk, hear, see, smell and even touch.

What are the benefits and the risks of tissue and organ engineering? If it is a lifesaving measure how long would the replacement last? What ethical questions could arise? Would the cost be prohibitive? Would insurance companies cover it? Would only the wealthy be able to afford the opportunity?

Subject Areas

Creative Writing, Ethics, Medicine, Philosophy


  • research based essay on the benefits and/or the risks of tissue and organ engineering
  • identification of organ or tissue to be developed
  • blueprint or sketch of organ or tissue (optional)
  • 3D printed organ or tissue model (using regular filament)
  • presentation to class