May. 4, 2010 | UW Bioengineering
Buddy Ratner to give the 2010 University Faculty Lecture
Buddy Ratner, professor in the Departments of Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering, has been selected to give the 2010 University Faculty Lecture at the UW. Ratner is the Michael L. & Myrna Darland Endowed Chair in Technology Commercialization in the Department of Bioengineering.
The distinction of giving the University Faculty Lecture honors faculty whose research, scholarship or art has been widely recognized by their peers and whose achievements have had a substantial impact on their profession, on the research or performance of others and perhaps on society as a whole.
Ratner's research focuses on specially designed materials, called biomaterials, that are used in medical devices and implants. Ratner’s lab is working on bioengineering projects for tissues and organs such as heart muscle, the esophagus, bones and cartilage, and the cornea. Ratner directs the UW Engineered Biomaterials center, and he has been involved in a number of startups.
Better biomaterials are important for medical devices and implants, because the immune system sees those objects as outsiders, walling them off from the rest of the body with scar tissue. Bioengineers have long hoped to develop materials that the body would better tolerate, and Ratner and his colleagues have recently made great strides in this area.
The researchers found that materials with a particular pattern and structure of pores can act like a scaffold for tissue growth, allowing the body to heal naturally around the implanted material. Better biomaterials based on this research could eventually be used to help rebuild cardiac muscle in heart attack victims, or lead to permanent implants for medical conditions like diabetes, or even help scientists design and grow replacement organs for people in need of a transplant.
One of Ratner’s colleagues in Bioengineering, Gerald Pollack, was selected to deliver the Faculty Lecture in 2007. This marks the first time that two faculty members from the same department have received this honor since Leland Hartwell and Maynard Olson from Genome Sciences, in 2003 and 2001.
For the first time, the Faculty Lecturer this year will be honored along with other university-wide award winners at the Awards of Excellence recognition event June 10, and will be invited to sit on the stage at commencement. The University Faculty Lecture, which is free and open to the public, will take place in fall quarter rather than in winter as has been the custom.