"We need to shorten the time from idea to realization"
How can research within medical engineering better match the needs of the health care system? With the center MedTech Science and Innovation at the Uppsala University Hospital, new points of contact are created between researchers at Uppsala University and the hospital's clinical activities.
Every time a new medical method or product is launched, it has been preceded by years of testing and research. Innovations must meet high demands in terms of design and function before they can be used by health care professionals, relatives or patients.
The new initiative MedTech Science and Innovation hopes to shorten the path from research to innovation and patient benefit. The center will enable closer collaboration between researchers at the Faculty of Science and Technology and the Faculty of Medicine. Consequently, basic scientific questions within medical technology will be better connected to health care needs. This is welcomed by Ayan Samanta, a visiting scholar at the Department of Chemistry-Ångström.
“We need to shorten the time from idea to realization. Above all, we researchers in the basic sciences must be able to get a solid understanding of the real issues to be resolved. We are not medical doctors. We don’t meet patients every day and are therefore unaware of all the daily problems that occur“, says Ayan Samanta. He adds:
“Medical doctors have access to specialized departments that can assure accurate regulatory handlings of a particular clinical solution. However, they often do not have access to research laboratories that we have.”
Ayan Samanta’s research field is synthetic biomaterials, mainly corneas to treat blindness. His collaboration with Professor Jöns Hilborn at the Division of Polymer Chemistry at the Ångström Laboratory is partly financed by the eye hospital LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India.
“My goal is to develop this research from a biomaterial perspective with the potential to find solutions to blindness. But I'm not the person to bring it to the clinical business or market, I can only contribute with a scientific solution.”
Cecilia Persson is also based at the Ångström Laboratory, at the Department of Engineering Sciences. She does research on new biomaterials that allow for tailor-made fracture treatments.
“We work with functional materials and implants such as patient-specific skull implants and pathology-specific bone cements. In our current research, we are also looking at the treatment of bone fractures resulting from osteoporosis. We see more and more problems with screws that loosen as the population gets older. At least 10 percent of the screws are coming loose. We want to look at why and how this happens.”
She believes that the center will provide opportunities to interact more often with medical doctors and discuss different diseases and treatments.
“In our group, we start with the clinical problem and it's really important for us to vent and exchange ideas. Are we really on the right track? Can it be customized at the clinic? There’s no use to sit and spend time on things that cannot be used.”
The fact that the meeting venue will be at the Uppsala University Hospital is positive as it is more difficult for medical doctors to detach themselves from their daily activities and go to other campuses, says Cecilia Persson.
“In addition, it may be easier for doctoral students and other researchers to go and get a better picture of the clinical activities and also acquire a larger network at the hospital.”
MedTech Science and Innovation is being co-financed by the Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology and the Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy at Uppsala University and by Region Uppsala. Uppsala University Hospital and Uppsala University are the first in the country to lead a joint interfaculty venture in leading medical technology. The center is the result of a careful review of existing expertise and an aim to gather forces in several specific fields of medical technology.
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