Faces of bioprinting: Meet CELLINK’s support and applications engineering intern, Brian

Name: Brian Bolarinho
Location: Boston, MA
Position: Support / Applications Engineering Intern

Hello to anyone who is reading this. My name is Brian, and I am the support and applications engineering intern at CELLINK for the Spring 2019 season. I am currently working towards a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering at Wentworth Institute of Technology. I previously researched the effects of octopamine on genetically modified Drosophila melanogaster, and I enjoyed the field a lot. I plan to work towards a master’s degree in biomedical engineering to focus my career in research and development.

When I first heard about CELLINK I thought, what’s better than being able to 3D print cells and work for a company that makes a machine that basically prints organs? I always wanted to change the future, and helping CELLINK’s cause brings me one step closer to completing that goal. My grandmother is in her sixties and doesn’t speak much English, so explaining biomedical engineering to her was a bit hard. But when I finished, she said something that still makes me laugh to this day. “Brian, my legs hurt every day, so when you graduate, can you cut off my legs and make me new ones?” It was hard explaining that it doesn’t work like that, but I think that CELLINK will make my grandmother’s idea into a reality one day.

I still can’t believe that I’m working with a group of people who are teaching me everything there is to know about bioprinting — I never stop learning each and every day. There is never a time when you are alone, and I think that is the best thing about CELLINK. We are a family.

During my senior year of high school, we had to complete a senior project in order to graduate. I had so many ideas that involved creating 3D models, but I didn’t have the tools to do that. I did my research on 3D printers, received my first 3D printer for Christmas and, eventually, I ended up creating my first 3D model for my senior project. I created a prosthetic hand where each finger was controlled with a servomotor and an EKG sensor connected to the user’s body. I loved 3D printing so much that I bought two more printers to explore the different kinds.

One day, I attended a co-op training course about writing resumes. That’s where I met Maria Rodriguez — Maria worked with CELLINK, and she introduced me to the concept of 3D bioprinting. I was always interested in printing different materials like electronic wiring and food, but I’d never thought about printing actual living cells. I was so excited to actually see the future of 3D printing right in front of my eyes. I sent CELLINK my resume the following year. I was constantly pushing their office to have an interview with me, and now here I am, learning a new type of printing that can benefit the future.

What do you hope to see happen with 3D bioprinting during your lifetime?
If I were to wish for one thing to happen with 3D bioprinting, it would probably be for this technology to be made accessible to all high schools and colleges around the world. If I never researched 3D printing myself, I would not be here now. I believe that our future is in the hands of the next generation — how can they be interested in continuing the future of bioprinting if we don’t give them the hands-on tools that we currently use?

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
When applying for the internship at CELLINK, I actually had no idea what position I applied for. I just kind of sent my resume in and got an interview. It wasn’t until my first week that I was given the title of applications engineer. I love building computers and I always dismantled my toys to figure out how they worked as a kid, and I hope to eventually work with the production team to help build and configure CELLINK’s bioprinters.

What was your dream job as a child?
I could say that I was set on being an architectural or biomedical engineer, but my dream job was neither of those positions. As a kid and especially now, I always wanted to be my dad. He was everything from a truck driver to a mechanic to an amazing chef — and I must say that I learned everything from him. He would always take my little brother and me on jobs with him, and his famous quote was, “Watch and learn, because when you need to do this and I’m not here, you’ll know exactly what to do.”

If you could have one superpower what would it be?
If there was one superpower that I could have, it would be super speed. I love watching any and every show, and sometimes I find myself wasting six hours of my day on a couple episodes of my favorite program. Being able to watch videos at ten times their normal speed (and have an extra second to relax and do other things, like catch up on some studying and not miss the train) would truly make life easier. Plus, being able to travel from the United States to China in a couple seconds would mean no flights.

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