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VOL. 126 | NO. 14 | Friday, January 21, 2011

U of M to Host Biomaterials Day

By Allison Buckley

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Biomedical industry professionals, students and faculty will have the opportunity to pick the brains of industry professionals at next week’s Biomaterials Day at the University of Memphis.

The Jan. 28 event, to be held at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., will include presentations by both graduate and undergraduate students, as well as industry professionals. Experts from Wright Medical Technology Inc., Smith & Nephew and Medtronic Inc. will speak about challenges in biomaterials and offer their expertise in the biomedical field through panel discussions.

Dr. Steve Peckham, director of biologics research and development at Medtronic, will give the keynote address. Peckham, a University of Memphis graduate, specializes in researching materials and biologics to enhance bone healing.

“In just about any medical application – anything that you’re going to implant in your body – there has to be a lot of care taken as to what materials you’re using,” Peckham said. “In the original concepts, well, we just want to make sure it’s compatible. … As the whole science has progressed it’s really transformed to more, well, now we can do that but can we make materials that have a more active role in healing, or in regeneration, or in treatment of disease.”

Peckham will deliver the 30-minute speech as a way to commence the Biomaterials Conference, which is sponsored by the University of Memphis’ Society for Biomaterials Student Chapter.

“I’ve thought a lot about what I’m going to talk about,” he said. “I think what I really want to do is give them, obviously, a little bit of background on me and where I came from. I want to talk a little bit about the company, what is my job really like? Hopefully at the end, wrap it up with what my advice would be as they’re trying to decide which direction they want to go with their careers.”

Peckham began his college experience as a chemistry major at Rhodes College.

“There are people who, from the time they’re young, know exactly where to go,” he said. “For me it was a more indirect route.”

After deciding he did not want to be a chemist, Peckham joined the biomedical engineering program at the U of M. It was there that he received his master’s degree. He continued his education at Memphis, receiving his doctorate degree in 2000.

“(The biomedical engineering program) opened my eyes to a whole new area that I hadn’t previously considered,” he said.

Peckham hopes to show the students interested in the biomedical field that there are a lot of exciting things happening, concerning types of disease treatment and regeneration. In opposition, Peckham will tackle some of the challenges the biomedical field is facing.

“I think in a lot of ways we’re just scratching the surface of possibilities,” he said.

Students will be offered refreshments and following the conference will be a networking luncheon and reception.

For more information or to register, go to http:sites.google.com/site/MemphisSFB/biomaterials-day. Registration deadline for the free event is Friday.

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