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Monday, January 08, 2018
Exploring industry via a conference for professionals

Two BESTies recently attended an industry conference focused on biofabrication. With the help of some BEST resources, they were able to pull back the curtain on a potential future career path. Here's what Jill Middendorf and Nicole Diamantides reflected about their experience.

The ARMI BioFabUSA 2018 Winter Summit focused on accelerating the commercialization of engineered tissues. Tissue engineering has been advancing for the last two decades or so but the field has yet to have great success commercially. The purpose of this meeting was to kick off discussions on what needs to be done to change this. The meeting consisted of panel discussions, keynote presentations, technology demos, poster presentations, and case studies. Topics of interest included the need for the development of standards, how to best interact with regulatory bodies, how education can be used to better prepare students for careers in this field, how workforce training can be utilized to transition individuals into this field, and how government funding can be acquired by academia and industry. Case studies also provided examples of successful collaborations between academia and industry.

This conference provided insight into the future of bio-fabrication and manufacturing processes in regenerative medicine, including the current state of regenerative medicine manufacturing processes and where the field is headed. Industry experts spoke about how they managed to work with the FDA to get approval at various steps of the process. The ability for manufacturers to reliably source large amounts of animal products for production was discussed. Additionally, skills that industry is looking for in PhD students were mentioned along with programs other universities have implemented to make their students more marketable.

"This meeting was particularly useful to me because my current research is on advanced manufacturing techniques (bioprinting) for cartilage tissue engineering. I want to remain in the bioprinting field after I graduate and this conference allowed me to speak with companies who are interested in getting involved in this area. By listening to the various speakers, I also learned about what companies consider to be roadblocks and what potential solutions could be. This meeting was a great opportunity to learn about the current state of commercialized tissue engineering and what directions the field is likely to follow in the near future." -Nicole Diamantides, Biomedical Engineering

"I was surprised to learn that like academia, many small biotech companies require government funding to get started. Overall the conference presented me with many new perspectives on the biotech industry and my future."- Jill Middendorf, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering