March 31, 2008
Contact: Richard Lewis
Brown Hosts Regional Bioengineering Conference
Brown University for the first time hosts the 34th Annual Northeast Bioengineering Conference on April 4-6, 2008. The gathering includes talks on the latest advances in bioengineering research and nanotechnology, such as the “printing” of human organs from ink jets and a new, injectable method for relieving lower back pain.
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Leading
academics and practitioners from the northeast United States will discuss the
latest advances in bioengineering research and nanotechnology – such as
the “printing” of human organs from ink jets and a new, injectable
method for relieving lower back pain – at a conference hosted by Brown
University April 4-6, 2008.
It is the first time that Brown has hosted the annual Northeast
Bioengineering Conference, which will take place at various sites on campus. The
program schedule, speakers and other information can be found at
Conference organizer Thomas Webster, associate professor of
engineering and the orthopaedics at Brown, said the conference is about the
“What are the challenges that face us in 2008 in
bioengineering? What are the yet unexplored promises in bioengineering? A number
of exceptional researchers from around the world will provide many insights into
the future of bioengineering,” Webster said.
Among the highlights at the conference are:
- A presentation by Gavin Braithwaite, a vice president of research at the
Cambridge Polymer Group in Boston, on a new method for relieving lower back
Back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the
United States – only headache is more common, according to the National
Institutes of Health. The NIH also reports that back pain is the most common
cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work,
causing Americans to spend at least $50 billion each year on treatment.
Braithwaite’s research involves injecting a liquid into
the nucleus polposus, the gelatinous inner section of the spinal disc
responsible for bearing weight and determining the spine’s motion. The
injected liquid transforms into a solid in minutes without chemical reaction,
creating a synthetic cushion that has the same effect the body provides
Braithwaite will present results from short-term animal studies
and lab experiments.
- A presentation by Paul Calvert, a professor in the Materials and Textile
Department at the University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth, on
“printing” human organs.
Science fiction? It may not be too far off. That’s because
Calvert has succeeded in the ink jet printing of stem cells and proteins, the
fundamental building blocks of organisms and the primary constituents of hair,
tendons, muscle, skin, and cartilage.
The stem cells that Calvert has printed have been undamaged and
have high survival rates, he will report. The next step is to build tissue
samples for implant or testing, and the ultimate goal will be to use the
technology to print human organs.
- A presentation by Srinivas Sridhar, vice provost for research and chair of
the Physics Department at Northeastern University, on the emerging field of
Nanomedicine is the application of nanotechnology – the
engineering of tiny machines – to prevent and treat disease in the human
In his presentation, Sridhar will give an overview of sorts,
explaining how nanomedicine “seeks to exploit a timely convergence of two
parallel recent developments toward the diagnosis and therapy of disease –
the decoding of the human genome that has led to greater understanding of the
molecular basis of diseases, and nanotechology, which offers the means to
control single molecular interactions.”
Sridhar also serves as director of Nanomedicine Science and
Technology, a program funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National
Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television
studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews and
maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call the
Office of Media Relations at (401) 863-2476.