- In biotechnology. an apparatus in which environmental conditions can be set and controlled. Incubators are used in microbiology for culturing (growing) bacteria and other microorganisms. Incubators in tissue culture rooms are used for culturing stem cells, lymphocytes, skin fibroblasts and other types of cells. And in the hospital nursery and newborn intensive care unit (NICU), incubators serve to house and maintain premature and ill infants. Incubators were developed for infants in France as early as 1857. The first one in the US was built by Dr. William Champion Deming at the State Emigrant Hospital, Ward's Island, New York. The "hatching cradle" was first occupied on September 7, 1888 by Edith Eleanor McLean, birth weight 2 pounds, 7 ounces. The device was warmed by 15 gallons of water.
* * *1. A container in which controlled environmental conditions may be maintained; e.g., for culturing microorganisms. 2. An apparatus for maintaining an infant (usually premature) in an environment of proper oxygenation, humidity, and temperature.
* * *in·cu·ba·tor 'iŋ-kyə-.bāt-ər, 'in- n one that incubates esp an apparatus with a chamber used to provide controlled environmental conditions esp. for the cultivation of microorganisms or the care and protection of premature or sick babies
* * *n.a transparent container for keeping premature babies in controlled conditions and protecting them from infection. Other forms of incubator are used for cultivating bacteria in Petri dishes and for hatching eggs.
* * *in·cu·ba·tor (inґku-ba″tər) 1. an apparatus for maintaining a premature infant in an environment of proper temperature and humidity. 2. an apparatus for maintaining a constant and suitable temperature for the development of eggs, cultures of microorganisms, or other living cells.
Medical dictionary. 2011.