BIOMATERIALS ARE in continuous demand in the healing process of common man. The products based on biomaterials are numerous and there is hardly any surgical operation that proceeds without consuming biomaterials. A biomaterial is any material, natural or synthetic, partly or as a whole or biomedical device that can perform, supplement or replace a natural function in a living body. Biomaterial science has undergone significant development and several companies have invested heavily in this discipline for evolving innovative and technically superior products that are almost enormous in number.

The common feature among all these materials is the interaction between biological systems and synthetic or modified natural materials. Biomaterials are normally manufactured in laboratories using a range of chemical approaches that utilize metallic, polymeric or ceramic components. They are often used and/or adapted for medical applications, thus comprising whole or part of a living structure or biomedical device, which performs, augments, or replaces a natural function. Pakistan heavily depends on import of such materials and a huge amount is spent on their import.

One of the most commonly used biomaterials are the sutures or various types that are required to stitch the wounds. The range of bio products is very large from sutures to heart valves, stents, hip joints, dental implants, peacemakers, skin grafts, synthetic bones and the list goes on un-ended. According to an estimate, in the USA alone 600,000 joint replacement operations are done and over ten million dollars are spent on orthopedic implants annually. The need for reliable, low-cost and easily accessible biomaterials in many shapes and forms is therefore omnipresent all around the world. Realizing the need of biomedical materials a research centre IRCBM, Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Biomedical Materials, was established in 2008 at the Lahore Campus of COMSATS IIT due to the combined efforts of Dr. Junaid Zaidi and Dr. Ihtesham ur Rehman. The IRCBM has attained a critical size in a short period of time, with 20 Ph.D.s and 20 non Ph.Ds scientists, engineers and doctors. Its impact on the society in biomaterials and “tissue engineering” has started to become noticeable and it has extended the range of activities to include training the related workers of other institutions and research organizations of Pakistan.

Pakistans first Dental and Biomaterials Summer Camp was held at the Interdisciplinary Research Centre (IRCBM), COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Lahore from August 17-21, 2015. It was a unique event of its kind as it brought together scientists, dental and biomedical clinicians and students from various leading Universities of Pakistan under the same roof. The first day of the Summer Camp was mainly focused on topics related to Lab Safety and Experimental Design along with panel discussion on Case Scenario Evaluation and Material selection. The main aim of the first day activities was to introduce the participants in true sense to dental and biomaterials, sensitize them about lab safety and safety matters of relevant importance.

The participants were made acquainted about the importance of biocompatibility and cytotoxcity of biomaterials and bio-switches for medical applications by Dr. Arshad Jamal and Dr. Akhatr Hayat of IRCBM respectively. The salient feature of the day was the lecture of Prof. Jukka P. Matinlinna from University of Hong Kong on advanced materials in clinical dentistry using the video conferencing facility of IRCBM.

On third day of the Summer Camp participants were given exposure to hands on experimentation on various techniques such as polymers synthesis and composites, processing of nanoparticles, fabrication of dental composites, paper based sensors for biomarkers and histology of biological samples using Microtome. The participants were divided in several groups and the above mentioned activities were led by the concerned scientists of IRCBM.

Fourth day of the Summer Camp was a nice blend of lectures and hands on exposure to characterization techniques such as XRD, FTIR, TGA/ DSC, SEM, BET surface area analyzer for biomaterials and mechanical testing in biomedical applications. Starting the proceedings of the fourth day the importance of crystal structure of materials on their physical properties were explained in two presentations on X-Ray diffraction and Scanning Electron Microscopy techniques and later on the participants were given a chance to experience these two very important characterization techniques of materials characterization.

Realizing the importance of the participation of dental and biomedical students and clinicians in research the fifth and final day of the Summer Camp was mainly focused on how to become an effective researcher. Lectures were presented on the important topics of thesis writing skills and scientific paper writing. Understanding the difficulty of young researchers in citing other research papers and different styles of referencing, special detailed lecture was presented on “using referencing software in scientific writing”. The last half of the final day was dedicated to workshop and competition in project designing which was actively participated and thoroughly enjoyed by the participants.

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