Major Conference Marks Ireland’s Standing in Biomaterials Industry (4-8 September)
Friday, 2 September 2011
Now recognised as a significant player in the international biomaterials industry, Ireland will be the venue the 24thEuropean Conference on Biomaterials from 4-8 September. Jointly hosted by NUI Galway’s Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB), and the University of Ulster, Jordanstown, this is the first time the annual meeting of the European Society for Biomaterials (ESB) will be held in Ireland.
Some 950 delegates will attend ‘ESB 2011’ at the Dublin Convention Centre, including members from academia, medicine and industry. The latest research findings and technologies from Europe and beyond will be presented over the course of the five-day conference.
With almost 60 researchers, the NFB at NUI Galway is one of the largest biomaterial groups in the EU. Director of the NFB at NUI Galway, Professor Abhay Pandit commented: “Biomaterials, natural or synthetic, are at the forefront of some of the most exciting fields in medical research today. New understanding at cellular and molecular levels, coupled with innovative concepts in scaffolding technologies and advances in nanotechnology, have increased the range of areas biomaterials can improve human health. Already we are seeing success in the treatment of wounds, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.”
The Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly, has said that this is a very significant conference and it is great to see it being hosted in Ireland: “Biomaterials enable the development of innovative healthcare technologies which provide advanced diagnostic and therapeutic options for patients and healthcare professionals. High quality scientific and clinical research of these technologies is critical to ensure that these products are safe, effective and valuable to patients and healthcare professionals.”
A $280 billion industry
Based at NUI Galway, the NFB was set up in 2003 with funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to establish a critical mass of biomaterials activity in Ireland. Ireland’s capacity in the field of biomaterials is ever-increasing, and at the conference podium presentations will be delivered by 48 researchers from 13 Irish-based, academic and industrial research groups.
The global medical technologies industry is valued at $280 billion, and is growing at approximately 7% per annum. According to Professor Pandit, “Ireland is a well-established hub in the global medical technology field. Ireland is home to 15 of the world’s top 20 Medical Technology Companies, with significant manufacturing and R&D operations coming out of Ireland. In fact, exports of medical devices and pharmaceuticals continue to grow, providing a beacon of hope for economic recovery.”
The opening day of the conference will be Industry Day and is sponsored by global healthcare products company Covidien. The day will bring together companies in the medical device market and entrepreneurial academics, who will share their experiences taking innovative biomaterial concepts to the clinic and the market.
Lord Mayor of Dublin, Andrew Montague, will open the conference proceedings on Monday, 5 September, which is expected to bring an estimated €3 million boost to the local economy. Speaking ahead of the event, he said: “I know the significant presence of medical device firms and research activities in Ireland was a key factor in securing this major event. We look forward to welcoming all delegates, including young Irish researchers who will have a wonderful opportunity to showcase their work to an international audience and network with many of the top names in the field.”
Experts in the biomaterials field will travel to Dublin from across the world to deliver plenary speeches and keynote addresses. Keynote speakers will include:
- Professor Messersmith, from Northwest University, USA, who works on the biological adhesives of shellfish and geckos. He will be discussing research on biologically inspired biomaterials, and their roles in the medical field, from surgical adhesives to cancer drug delivery.
- Professor Frechet from King Abdullah University, Saudi Arabia, has a wide range of research interests including targeted drug delivery. His plenary address will detail the design of macromolecules to facilitate improved drug delivery.
- Professor Catts of the University of Australia is a unique academic, bridging the gap between the creative arts and biology. A past art project involved the culture of ‘steaks’ and ‘jackets’ in the laboratory to interrogate the possibility of victimless animal products.
Thematic sessions planned for the conference, include recent advances in the use of biomaterials for therapeutics; vascularisation, innervations, and tissue integration; advances in nanotechnology and materials science and host response.
The Young Scientists Forum (YSF), designed to stimulate and engage the next generation of researchers, is an integral part of the programme.