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Engineering contributions to advances in life sciences and medicine

William Mong Distinguished Lecture by Professor Boris Rubinsky
Dec 3, 2018

Date:         December 3, 2018 (Monday)
Time:        5:00pm – 6:00pm (Reception: 4:30pm)
Venue:      Lecture Theatre A, Chow Yei Ching Building, HKU
Speaker:   Professor Boris Rubinsky
                    Professor of the Graduate School
                    Department of Mechanical Engineering, Department of Bioengineering
                    University of California Berkeley,  CA, USA

Abstract:

Engineering has enabled many advances in life sciences and medicine, and in this presentation I will describe some of the advances in which I was involved and highlight the role of engineering. Cryosurgery, the use of freezing to ablate undesirable tissues has its roots in the 19th century work of Faraday and other physicist who studied the physics of low temperatures. However, only in the early 1980’s have Dr. Gary Onik and I realized that the change in the physical properties of tissue during freezing can be used to produce a real time image of the frozen lesion, and thereby, transformed cryosurgery, from a medical technology used mostly on the outer surface of the body into an important minimally invasive surgery technique deep in the body, which has treated tens of thousands of patients, since. Electroporation, the permeabilization of the cell membrane by brief high electric field pulses is of central importance in biotechnology and molecular medicine.  Taking advantage of MEMS technology, Dr. Yong Huang and I have developed the first microchip for single cell electroporation, which is now a key element in many lab on a chip devices, and which my group now develops for CRISPR based manipulation of stem cells. Using only mathematical modeling of heat transfer and electric field calculations, Dr. Rafael Davalos and I have predicted that certain electric fields can ablate tissue through a phenomenon known as irreversible electroporation (IRE), in such a way that the cell death is caused only by the irreversible permeabilization of the cell membrane without Joule heating. First clinically tested in 2008, non-thermal IRE (NTIRE) is now considered one of the most promising new tissue ablation techniques. Thousands of otherwise non-treatable cancers, such as of the pancreas, are now successfully treated with NTIRE. From fundamental principles of thermodynamics,  Dr. Alejandro Perez and I have developed the concept of isochoric freezing,  a new concept now actively developed for preservation of different biological matter, from food organs for transplantation. Recently we have successfully preserved pancreatic islets for treatement of diabetes. Using mathematical modeling of the Maxwell equations, Dr. Cesar Gonzalez, Moshe Oziel and I have developed a new non-contact diagnostic technology that can detect changes in the blood content in the brain; a technology that is now clinically used for detection of edema in the brain. Time permitting, I will describe our group recent work on 3-D cryoprinting and cryolithography for tissue engineering and food manufacturing.

 

Biography:

Born in Romania, Professor Boris Rubinsky has received his BSc and MSc at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology and his PhD at MIT, in 1981. A Professor at UC Berkeley since 1980, he was among the faculty who have established the Bioengineering program at Berkeley and held the titles of Chancellor’s Professor (1995-2000), Arnold and Barbara Silverman Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering (2001-2008). He has developed extensive international collaborations including, NIH Fogarty Senior International  Fellow in Cambridge England  (1987/8), Japan Government Fellowship (1995)  Lady Davis Visiting Professor at the Technion Israel (1995-6), and holds three international Honorary Doctorates.  Professor Rubinsky has published close to 400 peer reviewed papers and received many awards for his work, including the Heat Memorial Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, Best Paper Award from the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Gold Award from the International Society of Cryosurgery and many others.  Among affiliations, he was elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and of the American Institute of Biomedical Engineering (AIMBE). He is a member of the Romanian Academy of Technology. Professor Rubinsky is also a successful entrepreneur, with expertise in translation of academic research into commercial products. The successful technology transfer resulted in several companies including Cryomedical Sciences ($220 million on NASDAQ in 2002); Aqua Bounty Technology (the first transgenic fish producing company (salmon)) ; Cerebrotech, Oncobionic (sold to Angiodynamics and manufacturer of the Nanoknife).

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