Rutgers hosts 12th biannual biomaterials science symposium


Researchers at the University can now reach out to other top-tier research institutions and researchers through the Big Ten, something that was not possible in previous years, said Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi.

The University is hosting the “12th New Jersey Symposium on Biomaterials Sciences” for two days, starting yesterday. This conference is designed to create collaboration between researchers and industry members.

Barchi opened the symposium by remarking about how researchers can develop cooperative relationships with other researchers and businesses. 

The symposium, which is held every other year, unites researchers and industry members from different parts of the world to mutually benefit the population, said John Bushby, chief operating officer for the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials.

“The purpose of the event is to disseminate, to create collaboration between various researchers,” said Bushby, also the event manager.

This year had about 50 representatives from companies with an overall total of roughly 180 registrants, he said. Researchers from three different countries and graduate students from several more were in attendance.

In addition to the speakers, researchers presented 32 posters, he said. 

Organizers formed a committee in late 2012 to select presenters based on their work, he said. Members of the committee also went to different companies to elicit their support for the conference.

“The event has to be self-funding, and it basically is,” he said. “It’s why we do it every other year, we couldn’t do it every year.”

Factors taken into consideration include their publications and if they are pursuing new and interesting lines of research that the NJCB wants to highlight.

Some speakers are also collaborators with the NJCB on current research its members are pursuing, he said.

The Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine funds much of the NJCB’s research, he said. As a result, a lot of the work is initially based on injuries sustained by service members.

These injuries range from bullet wounds to damage from explosions, he said. These form the basis for a wider array of treatments.

“Now all of these things we do for war can be translated into people in civilian life,” he said. “Industrial accidents, automobile accidents, fires — the trick is to make [reconstructive surgery] broadly available.”

Recently, the NJCB began looking at replacing damaged or destroyed tissues, he said. This research has several different aspects. 

One part involves creating a bioactive scaffold that will allow cells to grow for a specific purpose, he said. Skin and other tissues grow on the scaffold to a predetermined shape or size.

Another process regrows damaged nerves by creating a biological conduit, he said. The conduit works similar to a water hose, guiding the nerves to the proper position as they grow.

This year’s symposium is based on this area of research, he said. The various institutes on Busch campus that work on bioactive scaffolds, as well as other groups around the world, dedicate their time to healing these types of injuries.

David Kimball, associate vice president for the Office of Translational Sciences, said his department tries to relate discoveries in the general sciences with applications in the commercial market. 

This helps the University gain better grants by improving the data they have, said Kimball, a research professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry. The OTS’ goal is to tie academic research with therapeutic value through interdisciplinary groups.

The symposium is a good platform to connect academic discoveries with industrial projects in the biomedical field, said Vinod Damodaran, a post-doctoral associate at the University. It allows participants to share and learn concurrent research in their respective fields.


Nikhilesh De

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