Pierre DuPont, PhD, is Staff Scientist, Cardiovascular Surgery; and Chief, Pediatric Cardiac Bioengineering, at Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA USA. From his own experience, he points out the importance of bringing together experts in biology and technology.
Is there a need for collaboration between engineering and life science?
Pierre E. DuPont, PhD
Chief, Pediatric Cardiac Engineering
Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School:
I spent many years at Boston University in the college of engineering. And like many engineering schools, BU has a medical school, but there is a separation between the two communities. And as I became more involved in surgical/medical applications of engineering, I found that that separation impacted the originality and innovation that I could bring to my work. So I moved to Children’s Hospital Harvard Medical School, and what that has allowed me to do is apply my work to very relevant clinical problems. And the other wonderful aspect of it is that I’m surrounded now, by experts in biology and biotechnology as great collaborators; to bring our skill sets together. The only way to make rapid progress is to integrate the two different communities.
What are some of the breakthroughs we’ll see in the next 10 to 20 years?
There’s a very broad diversity within engineering applied to life sciences, so I’m looking, in the future, to developing robots that are on the millimeter scale, on the nanometer scale and integrating biological systems with my robotic platforms. Just yesterday I sat down with an expert in drug delivery, and we were able to think about new, robotically motivated ways to deliver drugs in various parts of the body; and mechanisms for controlling the delivery of those drugs. It’s just a fascinating environment for an engineer to be in, and a very rewarding one.