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Men, medicine and machines


A hundred and fifty yrs ago, Samuel Haughton at the age of 38 years, felt it necessary to obtain a medical degree to understand the anatomical details of the fossils that he encountered in his professional work as a geologist. Today surgeons and engineers both encounter problems professionally that requires the expertise of the other. The challenge before us is to establish mechanisms whereby we can help each other professionally without having to formally train in each other’s profession.

To encourage greater dialogue between engineers and doctors the University of Limerick has taken the courageous and novel step of creating a Chair of Surgical Science within the College of Engineering. It was my great priviledge to be appointed to that chair in 1996 and to date I believe it has been a very fruitful exercise for all concerned. Developing mutual research interests, which may have industrial spin offs, and providing educational opportunities in each others disciplines are the areas I believe will be the most fruitful for the doctor-engineer relationship. Academic development in biomedical engineering is an obvious step which I hope we in Ireland will soon be able to take together.

Today I have discussed the difficulties of bringing new techniques and technologies to clinical surgery. It is my view, however, that doctors and engineers together can overcome these difficulties so that the new machines which are the products of good bioengineering research can be brought safely to medicine for the benefit of all men.

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Correspondence to Pierce A. Grace.

Additional information

The Third Samuel Haughton Lecture Presented to Bioengineering in Ireland — the Annual Meeting of The Bioengineering Section of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland, Tulferris House, Blessington, Co. Wicklow, January 1997.

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Grace, P.A. Men, medicine and machines. I.J.M.S. 166, 152–156 (1997).

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  • Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy
  • Pulmonary Tuberculosis
  • Carotid Endarterectomy
  • Carotid Stenosis
  • Transient Ischaemic Attack