For Immediate Release

Mel Torre / John Varrasi
(212) 591-8157


NEW YORK, Feb. 28, 2000 -- Bioengineering, which contributed to the development of the artificial heart and several diagnostic aids that have advanced the field of medical imaging, has been recognized as one of the greatest mechanical engineering achievements of the 20th century by ASME International (American Society of Mechanical Engineers).

Members of ASME surveyed in 1999 rate bioengineering as one of 10 technologies that made major contributions to human progress in the last 100 years. Bioengineering "serves humanity by restoring the quality of life," writes ASME's Mechanical Engineering, which commemorates this top-ten greatest achievement in the March 2000 issue.

The artificial heart, one of the first and most famous devices to come from the 50-year-old field of bioengineering, is "a marvel that has had an incredible impact on the lives of millions of people," says Mechanical Engineering. Knee and hip replacement devices, another major contribution of bioengineering, have "transformed debilitating and sometimes lethal orthopedic conditions to normal and manageable life conditions," according to the article authored by Sohi Rastegar, Ph.D., of the National Science Foundation.

But the field of bioengineering is pushing far beyond these early developments and into areas of high technology unimaginable 40 years ago. There are numerous programs in the pipeline today which represent the next generation of high-tech patient care and rehabilitation.

Recent successes with laboratory-grown skin substitutes and cartilage enable engineers to look forward to tissue-engineered heart valves, spinal nerves and bone. As the field of molecular and cell biology continues to mature and biologists and engineers gain integral knowledge of cell function, perhaps even fully biocompatible replacement livers and hearts can be produced in the laboratory.

The intra-ocular lens, an eye covering produced from synthetic materials, can aid victims of cataracts. Also on the horizon is a physiological drug delivery device -- an implantable living "patch" that can secrete therapeutic levels of hormones or drugs for ongoing patient benefits.

According to the article in Mechanical Engineering, bioengineering bridges two centuries and provides "fertile ground for discovery and application where engineering principles have a vast opportunity to exploit and make an impact that will serve humanity."

The top 10 greatest mechanical engineering achievements of ASME, in addition to bioengineering, are codes and standards, computer-aided engineering, air conditioning and refrigeration, integrated circuit mass production, the airplane, agricultural mechanization, power generation, the Apollo space program, and the automobile.

The survey conducted last year included 1400 responses delivered on-line and by mail. The March 2000 issue of Mechanical Engineering including the article on bioengineering is available on-line at

ASME International is a 125,000-member engineering society focused on technical, educational and research issues. ASME conducts one of the world's largest technical publishing operations, holds some 30 technical conferences and 200 professional development courses each year, and sets many industrial and manufacturing standards.

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