​Photo: Yen Strandqvist

A fruitful collaboration between medicine and engineering

​The initiative seminar Engineering Health – The Legacy of William Chalmers on 8-9 November 2017 gathered a large number of engineers and clinicians with one strong interest in common: to bring medicine and engineering closer together.
​The programme stretched from the past, to the present and into future challenges. Many short pair-presentations provided an overview of ongoing collaborations. These featured local, as well as international, researchers who have succeeded in establishing translational activities.There were a lot of evidence shown on how academia, industry and health care jointly collaborate for mutual progress, for the benefit of patients. Round table discussions and other activities provided plenty of networking opportunities.

The initiative seminar was a collaboration between Sahlgrenska University hospital, AstraZeneca, Chalmers, University of Gothenburg and MedTech West. The first day was held at Chalmers and the following day took place at AstraZeneca in Mölndal.

Here is a cavalcade of photos from the seminar day at Chalmers 8 November:

The opening of the seminar was held by Stefan Bengtsson, President of Chalmers, and Ann-Marie Wennberg, Hospital director of Sahlgrenska. By cutting a blue and yellow double twisted Möbius ribbon lengthwise they got two halves linked together, manifesting the fruitful collaboration between the two partners. Chalmers and Sahlgrenska – a never ending story.

In a historical reenacting Philip Wramsby and Johan Randhem appeared as William Chalmers and Pehr Dubb, giving the audience a humorous insight into how it might have happened when William Chalmers left half of his fortune to a school, nowadays known as Chalmers University of Technology, and the other half to Sahlgrenska hospital. And the rest is history…

Kjell Torén from Sahlgrenska gave an overview of historical collaborations between Chalmers and Sahlgrenska. A traffic accident in the 1950s, where a Professor from Chalmers crashed his motorbike into a bus and got a complicated fracture, is said to have had importance for the upgrading of X-ray equipment at Sahlgrenska and also for the further collaboration in medical engineering.

A long-distance guest was Chris Cheng from Stanford University, who gave a talk on “Vascular Biomechanics – A collaborative Effort at Stanford” mentioning that a Chalmers alumnus, Hans Wallstén, created one of the earliest and most successful stents – the Wallstent.

Stents was also the subject in the presentation given by Mårten Falkenberg, Sahlgrenska, and Håkan Nilsson, Chalmers: “Air bubble release and flow-induced forces in stent grafts”.
They also clearly pointed out the benefits of collaboration, listed according to their experience. Among Chalmers´ strengths are technologies, physics, mechanical as well as mathematical models, and analysis of results. Sahlgrenska, on the other hand, has expertise in life science problems, offers a clinical testbed and patient feedback, and is prominent in epidemiology.

Three flagships of medtech research, originating from Gothenburg, presented themselves. First in line was Max Ortiz Catalan from Chalmers, who gave a talk on “The future of bionic limbs: osseointegration and neural control”. In his research, conducted together with Rickard Brånemark, previously at Sahlgrenska but now at University of California, San Francisco, the world´s first mind-controlled arm prosthesis was developed, now regarded by the patient as a body part more than an external device. A coming research project is focused on feedback and doing the same with a leg; neuromuscular control of robotic leg prostheses.

“You couldn´t do it without me!” said Sabine Reinfeldt from Chalmers and her colleague Måns Eeg-Olofsson from Sahlgrenska made the same statement: “You couldn´t do it without me!”. They jointly presented their research on “New hearing implant replacing the middle ear”, where functionally deaf patients can gain normal hearing with a Bone Conduction Implant (BCI).

Mikael Elam, Sahlgrenska, and Mikael Persson, Chalmers, are co-inventors of the stroke helmet Strokefinder and share many research projects in the field of traumatic brain injury and stroke. They presented “A Sahlgrenska Chalmers collaborative effort around Stroke and trauma”.
They also emphasized the importance of MedTech West as a network and collaborative platform for research, education, development and evaluation of new biomedical concepts and technologies. The focus is on addressing actual clinical needs in collaboration with relevant clinical staff, and to initiate, facilitate and promote increased research collaboration between the health care sector, industry and academia.

Elin Rønby Pedersen is a member of Google Medical Brain Team and uses brain technology to solve problems in clinical domains. She focuses her research on the human side of deep learning in health and medicine, for example when it comes to adapting deep neural networks to read fundus images. Big data will only be helpful if you understand the context, was one of her conclusions.

Oliver Aalami from Stanford University Hospital gave a talk on how “Apps, Augmented reality and Bio design” can be designed through collaboration between computer science and medicine. For example, smart glasses can be used by surgeons to better get an overview of monitors and screens in the operating room, without taking the eyes off the patient.

About 270 persons had registered for the first seminar day at Runan, Chalmers.

Hanns-Ulrich Marschall, Sahlgrenska, and Paul Hockings, Chalmers, presented their collaboration in the TRISTAN project, focusing on “Imaging biomarkers for safer drugs”, especially in the field of assessment of liver toxicity. MRI-models are used to find biomarkers to better predict toxicity in humans in the development of drugs.

Marta Bally, Chalmers, and Nils Lycke, Sahlgrenska, gave a talk on "Lipid nanoparticles for mucosal vaccine delivery: from physicochemical properties to immune stimulation". In their research, they have identified that lipid-based nanoparticles are suitable as pharmaceutical carriers. However, the physicochemical profile of an ideal nanoparticle for mucosal vaccine delivery remains to be further investigated.

A garment with integrated sensors, from the smart textiles project “WearIT” was shown by Kristina Malmgren from Sahlgrenska and Leif Sandsjö from MedTech West/University of Borås.

Kristina Malmgren explained.

Textiles that monitor your health or measure your movements was the subject also for Nils-Krister Persson, Smart Textiles Technology Lab, and Anja Lund from Chalmers in their presentation “Chalmers Textiles as enabler for Engineering Health”. Amongst other things they defined the differences between medical textiles, medtech textiles and hygiene textiles. The presentation also included information about research on compression sensitive gastro intestinal stents, where a strain-sensing thread can be integrated in the stent to sense both position and amplitude of deformations.

A poster session was arranged and showed even more projects where clinicians and engineers collaborate.
Read the abstracts from the poster session

A number of new Sahlgrenska-Chalmers contacts were made during the coffee breaks, lunch and dinner.

Read more about the initiative seminar

​MedTech West about "Sahlgrenska and Chalmers - a never ending story"

Text: Yvonne Jonsson
Photo: Yen Strandqvist
and Yvonne Jonsson

Published: Tue 21 Nov 2017. Modified: Wed 22 Nov 2017