symp pics 01_optBy Prof. Dr. Saadat Anwar Siddiqi

THE INTERDISCIPLINARY Research Centre in Biomedical Materials (IRCBM), COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Lahore, in collaboration with the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Traumatology, DOST, King Edward Medical University, and Demont Morency College of Dentistry, organized the 3rd International Symposium on Biomedical Materials: Recent advances and Challenges (18-20th of December 2012) in Lahore. In addition to the symposium, training workshops on Advance Biostatistics, Referencing Software and Research Methodology were also organized and conducted by Prof. Asif Hanif, Head of Biostatistics Department, Gulab Devi-Post Graduate Medical Institute, Lahore, and Prof. Jawwad A. Darr, University College London (UK) conducted workshop entitled Research methodology and finally a full day workshop on Paediatric dentistry was conducted by Prof Ferranti Wong, Centre for Oral Growth and Development (Paediatric Dentistry), Institute of Dentistry, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London (UK) respectively.

This symposium was third in a series, while the first two symposia (held in 2008 and 2010) focused on “prospects and potentials” and “current research trends and future signposting” respectively. This present symposium covered the following topics in more than six oral sessions:

• Recent advances in the field of biomedical materials and tissue engineering (BMTE)

• Progress on the front of (BMTE) in Pakistan

• Pinpointing global and national challenges to research

• Highlighting importance of BMTE research to global and national economies

• Encouraging interdisciplinary research in Pakistan

• Involving Government and related entities in developing a comprehensive strategy for chartered developments in the field of BMTE

The symposium was a well attended with over 170 professionals from different disciplines, including researchers from diverse backgrounds: engineers, orthopaedic surgeons, clinicians, dentists, chemists, biochemists, and pharmacists participating from both nationally and internationally. The highlight of this Symposium was the participation of world renowned scientists such as Prof. Sheila MacNeil, from The Kroto Research Institute, The University of Sheffield, UK, and Prof. Ferranti S.L. Wong from Centre for Oral Growth and Development, Institute of Dentistry, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, UK,

Inauguration ceremony:

The symposium was inaugurated by the eminent philanthropist and industrialist Dr Syed Babar Ali, Pro-Chancellor, Lahore University of Management Sciences. In the inauguration on a cold morning, the atmosphere was warm and humming with the presence of a large number of passionate and committed scientists, engineers, clinicians, dentists and academicians assembled in a very cozy conference venue.

Dr. Aqif Anwar Chaudary, Secretary Symposium, introduced the salient features of the symposium. Professor Ihtesham Ur Rehman, the Executive Director and Founder of the IRCBM briefed the audience about the main aims and objectives of setting up of the Interdisciplinary Research Centre aimed to benefit ordinary, people highlighting the slogan “healthcare for all”. He vividly recalled the initial meetings with the visionary Rector of COMSATS IIT, Prof. Dr. S. M. Junaid Zaidi (SI), especially in the backdrop of the one of the most devastating earthquake in October 2005, to shape the ideas into reality. In his address, he expounded on the fact that the focal point of research being conducted in biomedical materials should be to uplift the healthcare system for the masses, and not just for a privileged few. Later, eminent Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Syed M Awais of KEMU highlighted the importance of collaborations between research centers like IRCBM and hospitals.

The inauguration ceremony was given a further boost by the most rewarding deliberations from eminent scholars and thinkers in the Higher Education profession, such as, Dr. Syed Babar Ali, and Rector CIIT Dr. S. M. Junaid Zaidi (SI). Dr. Babar Alis heart-warming speech highlighted the significance of such a symposium in the field of biomedical materials. He further went on to emphasize that our schools are like nurseries, all prominent scientists should make a contribution to the development of educational facilities, course selections and education curricula are to be revamped if we are to keep pace with the technological advances in the 21st century. Director of the Lahore campus Prof. Dr. M. A. Bodla also congratulated the organizing committee of the symposium on successfully holding and offering the best available facilities to the participants especially to the foreign delegates.

Plenary Lecture

After the inauguration ceremony, Professor Sheila McNeils set the scene by delivering an excellent talk on tissue engineered epithelial tissues garnered a host of novel concepts for tissue engineering applications, specifically, delivering cells on carrier dressings for the treatment of chronic wounds. The novelty of this research is its ability to transfer cells from the laboratory to the clinic, thereby traversing the distance between a research facility and its beneficiary, the patient. A working research group has now been established between Professor McNeil and IRCBM scientists, which will be beneficial to the development of the IRCBM.

A number of research topics were covered in keynote lectures by Professor(s) from UK John Haycock on Microgeometry and guidance channels for nerve regeneration and 3D models, Ihtesham ur Rehman on Role of Characterisation in Biomaterials, Clinicians View on Biomaterials and Jawwad Darr, Engineering Nanoceramics for Biomedical Applications; The Advantages of Continuous Reactor Technologies generated a lot of interest. In addition, Keynote lectures by Dr Park (Korea), Prof Fazle Khalid (GIKI), Prof. Syed M. Awais (SI) Chairman, DOST KEMU, Lahore and Prof Arshad Bhatti (SI) CIIT, Islamabad, were of particular interest. These eminent scientists provided visionary themes to take the field of biomaterials forward.

Poster Competition

Alongside the symposium proceedings, a “Poster Exhibition” was also arranged. The posters showcased a wide range of themes related to biomedical medicines and materials. The posters were judged by a panel of foreign experts for three prizes. The first three winners were awarded prizes at the end of the sixth scientific session. The first prize in the poster competition was awarded to Aisha Ashraf from GCU, Faisalabad, (Rs 5000 cash prize), the second prize went to Aniqa Naeem from PU Lahore, (Rs 3000 cash prize) and the third prize was awarded to Muhammad Ali Hashmi CIIT Abbottabad (Rs 2000 cash prize).

At the end of the second day, the closing remarks were made by the Executive Director IRCBM, Prof Ihtesham ur Rehman. He expressed his satisfaction and happiness on the successful conclusion of the symposium. He generously praised the IRCBM team for organizing this epic event.

Training Workshops

Training workshops organized on day three, 20th December 2013, attracted a large number of professionals from different disciplines. These workshops were conducted by Prof. Jawwad A. Darr, on Research Methodologies and another two on Advanced Biostatistics, and Referencing Software (Endnote) by Asif Hanif, HOD Bio Statistics, GD-PGMI, Lahore. Prof Jawwad Darr guided the audience on how to formulate research proposals when applying for research projects.

The symposium was a largely satisfying experience highlighting the importance of translational research where the fruit of research can improve the healthcare of our nation.

The writer is Advisor IRC in Biomedical Materials, COMSATS Institute of Information 
Technology, Lahore.

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