New department to be created, Biomedical engineering
Currently, work is underway to set up a new department for biomedical engineering at LTH. It is needed to put Lund on the map, according to Thomas Laurell and Leif Sörnmo. Awareness of Lund’s strength in this field is low even among research funders such as Vinnova and the Swedish Research Council.
“It is not obvious from our departments’ titles what we do, so a new name can provide greater clarity”, says Thomas Laurell.
“The shortcoming was evident when last year Vinnova was to entrust researchers from all over the country to formulate the basis for greater future research investments into biomedical engineering, among other things. Only thanks to the insistence of our colleagues in Linköping was Lund included in the preparatory work at all”, says Thomas Laurell.
Now his colleague Tomas Jansson is Lund’s representative in the group which has been given SEK 0.5 million to carry out the coordination work.
Thomas thinks that Lund has a history in biomedical engineering to be proud of: ultrasound which is now more widely used than x-rays, the dialysis machine and Gambro, thorax professor Stig Steen with equipment for organ transplants, orthopedic specialist Lars Lidberg’s medical technology inventions within orthopedics. The first pacemaker was produced in Stockholm in 1958 but by Lund-educated Rune Elmqvist.
Leif Sörnmo is another instigator of the change:
“A new department will bring those of us working with biomedical engineering closer together over subject boundaries. We have made good progress in the preparatory work and have mapped the benefits that we expect for LTH. Above all, the new department will provide a visibility that we have sadly lacked in the past”, he says.
Lund already has a uniquely broad cooperation between medicine and engineering. The new department will make that even clearer to students as well. When people meet across boundaries, new fields emerge.
”We will soon be starting a new project with Bachelor’s degree projects at SUS (Skåne University Hospitals), to be known as Klinnovation. We will run it together with various clinics and Innovator Skåne. Taking problems experienced by doctors or nurses as a starting point, our students are to try to formulate Bachelor’s degree projects themselves and they seem very much to appreciate this challenge.”
A new department should be able to start towards the end of this year and get going from a budget point of view as of 2014. The department is to be able to have affiliated members, that is people who perhaps cannot or do not wish to leave the departments they belong to but who would still like to join the new department and run an activity. At the centre of a department we could have subjects such as medical measurement technology, medical signal treatment, biomechanics and other groups that are affiliated, among them the Laser centre.
LTH’s dean says that he is generally positive towards exploring boundary-crossing activities, as this is a success factor for Lund University and LTH. The issue is now being investigated in cooperation with the departments affected.
At the same time, a specialised centre is being planned over faculty boundaries, with a node within Medicon Village and a base in the Faculty of Medicine. There is a lot going on from the point of view of premises as well at the moment, Laurell points out. Many researchers are gathered in Medicon Village and so parts of the new department can instead be gathered in available premises in BMC – in particular the “wet” parts. That would mean that researchers could avoid running around the corridors of LTH carrying blood samples, for example. At BMC reader György Marko Varga from the same department already has a lab built around mass spectroscopy and a growing number of instruments and researchers. The discussion is ongoing with Ingemar Carlstedt (chair of BMC’s board) to resolve the requirements for premises in the 1.5 floors of BMC which will now become vacant.
“Lund doesn’t only have outstanding – although somewhat dispersed – researchers in this field but also a Master’s programme in Biomedical Engineering, which has the largest number of applicants in the country”, Thomas points out. “A department also provides clarity to students. Another advantage to being there is that our students can meet medical students, their future colleagues”.