BioMediTech: A New Institute of Biosciences and Medical Technology
H.O. Ylänen1 and Juho Väisänen1
1 Tampere University of Technology, Department of Biomedical Engineering, BME and Institute of Biosciences and Medical Technology, Tampere, FinlandINTRODUCTION
Tampere University of Technology (TUT) and University of Tampere (UTA) have a long tradition of high-level research and education related to life sciences and medical technology. Over 250 scientists in various departments have for many years conducted research and education in the fields of cell and molecular biology, genetics, biomaterials, biosensors, computational systems, biotechnology, biomedical engineering, and regenerative medicine. At the beginning of 2011 the two Universities agreed to start the integration of these activities and establish a combined organization, BioMediTech.
BioMediTech, a joint institute of TUT and UTA, brings together a powerful mix of multidisciplinary expertise in life sciences and medical technology. The institute aims not only to integrate and strengthen the local tradition of excellence in basic life-science research and teaching, but also to create new platforms for discovery and innovation.
EXCELLENCE IN RESEARCH
BioMediTech conducts world-class basic and translational research in biomedicine and medical technology. Its research activities cover diverse fields, including biomaterials, stem cells, cancer, immunology, biosensors, imaging, and computational methods, with a common aim of developing personalized medicine via new diagnostic and treatment methods. The institute also houses FinMIT, the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in research on mitochondrial disease and ageing.
BioMediTech provides state-of-the-art laboratory and clean-room facilities, and implements relevant quality systems. These have enabled us, for example, to be among the first units in the world to initiate stem cell production in compliance with pharmaceutical manufacturing requirements (GMP standards) and, consequently, to produce stem-cell transplants for clinical use. Our adult stem-cell research group pioneered the generation of cranial bone derived from patients’ own fat tissue in 2007. Since then, nearly 30 patients have successfully received cranial and facial bone transplants created in this fashion.
During the last ten years the research groups of BioMediTech have produced close to 1500 publications in international peer-reviewed journals, nearly 100 patents and over 10 commercial spin-offs. The institute is funded by national and international agencies such as the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (TEKES), Academy of Finland, the Council of Tampere Region, the European Union and its frontier-sciences arm, the European Research Council.
BioMediTech aims to nurture innovation and commercialization of research results via an active patenting policy, by providing expert advice to its scientists on the innovation potential of their discoveries, and by fostering spin-offs. Research groups participating in BioMediTech have a long history of exploitation of research findings. For example, the Biomedical Engineering unit and its predecessors at TUT were the first in the world to develop bio-absorbable implants such as screws and plates for bone fixation.
UNIQUE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT
BioMediTech is also pioneering a unique educational environment by combining UTA-based biosciences and TUT-based technology into a single degree programme, which is planned to start in the autumn of 2012. The main objective of the new degree programme will be to educate top-level experts with multidisciplinary skills in life sciences for the demands of both academia and industry.