(From the Oct. 31, 2011, issue of Rubber & Plastics News)
AKRON—I'll admit most of the talk was Greek to me in a panel discussion in the Advanced Materials in Health Care session of the ACS Rubber Division meeting two weeks ago.
Maybe Latin would be a better description, since primarily it was doctors tossing about medical terms, talking about various conditions they treat, and the role of polymers in their work.
My knowledge of human anatomy isn't in the same ballpark as theirs, but I did recognize one word, not spoken but often implied: Opportunity.
Opportunity for polymer scientists and manufacturers of medical-related polymer goods to create useful, important products by interacting with some top-flight doctors.
This was part of the first symposium of the new-look Rubber Division technical program delving into health care. The Wednesday afternoon panel discussion I and a colleague sat in on lacked a couple of panel members, but the absentees had excellent excuses for not showing: They are doctors, and were tied up with patients.
As a layman, what I saw was a glimpse of—I suspect—some serious future interaction between the medical community and polymer scientists, within the venue of a Rubber Division conference. The doctors certainly seemed interested in that possibility, and the session's chairman, Dr. Frank Douglas, CEO of the Austen BioInnovation Institute, often asked for opinions from materials scientists in the audience.
Dr. Sharon Grundfest-Broniatowski of the Cleveland Clinic provided another example of the medical community reaching out to the polymer field. She gave a rundown on many uses of polymer-based materials by surgeons, from stents to implants. Time and again she'd state, this is a problem looking for a solution from material scientists.
I'd call that an opportunity.
Unfortunately, the audience seemed to be made up mostly of other speakers from the health care sessions. But as Judit E. Puskas, renowned educator and scientist from the University of Akron, put it, you have to start somewhere.
The Rubber Division is fully committed to continuing the health care component of its future technical conferences and major exhibitions, held every other year from now on in Cleveland. That northeast Ohio area is trying to refashion itself as a “medical corridor,” and the division sees a place for the organization in that effort.
It makes sense to me.
Noga is the editor of Rubber & Plastics News.