In 2007 a complete new department was founded at the University of Basel with major financial contributions of Thomas Straumann: The “Biomaterials Science Center” (BMC). It’s mission: use physical principles in a multidisciplinary environment to tackle major medical challenges.
Ten years later, the BMC celebrated its success with a symposium on May 11th. Opening addresses by Andrea Schenker-Wicki, rector of the University, and member of the governing council Conradin Cramer underlined the importance of the interdisciplinary and innovative center. But what does interdisciplinary mean? Vice rector Ed Constable reflected in an inspiring speech about the different meanings of inter-, trans- or multidisciplinarity. Although everyone may have a different understanding about the meaning, the value for science and progress is undisputed.
Pressure sensitive sensors and 3D printed bones
A recent example of the BMC research are artificial muscles. These are based on many layers of only a few hundred nanometer thick electroactive polymer materials, which is the basis for very low, “human-compatible” voltages. The polymer materials might be used also as pressure sensitive sensors or even to convert movement into electrical power. So far this is still a dream, but new materials for artificial joints, new bones or teeth are already there – and many more will come.
The symposium showcased international scientists with topics ranging from nanometer-scale robots directed by magnets to magnesium alloys for 3D printed bones and new dielectric elastomers. The posters of the scientists and PhD students revealed numerous details of the advances – and the challenges – in biomaterial science for health applications.
The BMC is managed by Prof. Dr. Bert Müller. Since September 1st, 2006, he is the owner of the Thomas-Straumann-Professorship for Material Science in Medicine. This extraordinary professorship was made possible due to the donation of the Basel-based entrepreneur Dr. Thomas Straumann. In the eleventh year of the BMC, Prof. Müller became an integral part of the Department of Biomedical Engineering as a structural professor.