The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research has launched a new engineering program aimed at delivering revolutionary medical breakthroughs including transplantable 3D printed organs.
The program known as Biomedical Engineering@Perkins was launched on Thursday July 28 at the Perkins headquarters in Nedlands. It is a joint program between the Perkins and the UWA Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics.
It will be the first of its kind in the State, bringing together engineers, doctors and scientists to create innovative technology solutions.
The program consists of two laboratories, a Vascular Engineering Laboratory headed by Dr Barry Doyle, and a Bioimaging Research and Innovation for Translational Engineering Laboratory headed by Dr Brendan Kennedy.
Dr Barry Doyle, who heads the Vascular Engineering Laboratory, said doctors and medical researchers have the problems and the engineers can develop the solutions.
The 16 new staff members have all graduated with mechanical or electrical engineering degrees which they are now applying to medicine and medical research.
“Our grand vision is to 3D bioprint the world’s first implantable heart,” Dr Doyle said.
“As well as creating new medical devices the Program is aiming to create a new biotechnology industry by training engineers in new ways of thinking,” said Dr Doyle.
“We already have close to 100 students enrolled in a new Masters unit.”
“This State is ready for a new industry employing engineers in research institutes and hospitals to improve the health of Western Australians,” said Dr Doyle.
The Vascular Engineering Laboratory focuses on further the understanding of vascular physiology and disease.
One Australian dies every 12 minutes from cardiovascular disease, and the disease affects one in six Australian and is the biggest killer of women.
Perkins Director, Professor Peter Leedman said the program was the first of its kind in the state and would ultimately deliver improved health outcomes to the broader national and international communities.
“Technology plays an increasing role in the delivery of pioneering clinical care,” Professor Leedman said.
“The first two laboratories will form the nucleus of a much larger critical mass over the coming years,” Dr Kennedy said.
“This will attract new researchers from throughout local universities and the broader biomedical engineering world.”
Dr Doyle said the program would be strengthened by the integration of a dedicated tissue-engineering lab within five years.