Edward F. Leonard, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University, in the United States of America, presented the lecture “The History, Promise, Disappointment and Future of Artificial Organs”, within the American Corners Portugal protocol, an initiative of the US Embassy in Lisbon.
For about one hour, the professor spoke about the past, the challenges and the achievements of artificial organs research, noting that the blood is the most important.
The first part of the lecture was focused on the need of organ replacement; according to Leonard, “knowing the causes will help us to understand what can be done in the future”. The importance of this debate is simple: “Society must think about sustainability and this involves thinking not only about the people who will receive these treatments, but also the people who will not”.
The state of the art of artificial kidney, lungs and pancreas was also addressed in this lecture. Leonard also spoke about the possibility of organ creation – 3D printed organs – in a near future. “ I am sceptical, but who am I to say something about this? This is not my field of expertise”, he said. “Hybrid artificial organs, which are already being developed, might be created in the future.”