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Biomaterials, artificial organs and tissue engineering in India: thirty four years young.

Biomaterials as a specialized field in medical science have around 60 years of global existence. It is an interdisciplinary field bringing together ideas and faculties from materials science and engineering, technology, physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, instrumentation and nanotechnology. In India the interest in Biomaterials initiated with the study on the development of blood bags and prosthetic heart valves at the Biomedical Technology Wing of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology (SCTIMST), Trivandrum almost 38 years ago. Dr. Chandra Prakash Sharma (CPS) joined SCTIMST in 1980 on invitation from Prof. Marthanda Varma Sankaran Valiathan (first Director of SCTIMST) to initiate the Division of Biosurface Technology that specializes on the studies on bloodbiomaterial and tissue interactions. Dr. Sharma is basically a Solid State Physicist from IIT Delhi. He received his training in Biomaterials area in the University of Utah (USA) with Prof. D.J. Lyman as a graduate student and in the University of Liverpool, England with Prof. D.F. Williams as Post Doctoral Research Associate before joining SCTIMST. Dr. Sharma was the Head of Biomedical Technology Wing at SCTIMST and Senior Scientist G and also the Scientist in-charge of the Division of Biosurface Technology, when he retired from service after superannuation on serving the institute for 34 years. The age stipulated by Government of India for scientists to retire in India is 65 years. Scientifically, aging is a state of mind. It is quite often seen that young staff retire mentally while in service; and who are at 65 is mentally vigorous with scientific thought process that could be utilized by the country like India where we are still years lagging behind in science and technology compared to developed countries.

Dr. Sharma initiated the Division of Biosurface Technology in SCTIMST and started his work on small diameter vascular grafts which was succeeded to a larger extent. His area of interest was the study on surface properties of biomaterials and its interaction on the blood compatibility and tissue compatibility. Significant time was spent on the various surface modification techniques to tailor application specific interaction of biomaterials towards blood as well as tissue. A successful small diameter vascular graft is not yet available commercially anywhere in the world because of the complexity induced by the low blood flow in these vessels (low wall shear stress plays a significant role in pathogenesis). His vision was to develop new devices after strong research background and basic studies and to be useful to millions of Indian patients. This is visible from his number of research publications and patents, and the products like oral insulin delivery devices utilizing nanoparticles for diabetic population, hemoperfusion columns for removing circulating immunocomplexexs from blood of patients with autoimmune diseases and wound dressing materials for ulcer and burn patients.

Dr. Sharma was a pioneer who cultivated an atmosphere nationwide for the growth of basic and technology oriented research in the area of Biomaterials, Artificial Organs and Tissue Engineering and brought together the professionals from various faculties to improve the quality of their approach in biomaterials research. Although some very good work was being performed in India in this field, during late 80's and early 90's scientists from India were underrepresented at international conferences and published less frequently in the major journals than many competing countries. The Indian Societies; Society for Biomaterials and Artificial Organs (SBAOI) & Society for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine (STERMI) were founded by him to bring together scientists, technologists, industries and students who are interested in biomaterials field and to encourage them to attend world forums for better interaction among their counterparts. The impact he made on biomaterials field in India and internationally by travelling to various countries and delivering lectures has made Indian biomaterials science visible globally, which also reflected in the publication of many high impact international research papers. Dr. Sharma's contributions to the fields of Biomaterials, Artificial Organs and Tissue Engineering; and its growth in India are significant. He has contributed significantly on surface modification and blood compatibility, drug delivery, oral insulin delivery systems etc. are few of the areas to be mentioned. Sharma's hypothesis on 'the optimum dispersion-polar components of material surface with respect to the dispersion-polar components of the proteins and cells interacting at the interface' can explain the proteins, cells and even the bacterial adhesion onto various surfaces understanding the optimum surface improvement needs. He has mentored many young scientists and students and was a constant inspiration.

Dr. Sharma is fellow (FBSE) of The International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science & Engineering (IUSBSE). He has published over 362 research papers with over 4450 citations (in Scopus) and has processed 38 patents including in Canada, European Union, Japan and USA. He has edited several special issues of international journals as guest editor, edited and authored books on biomaterials, devices and drug delivery. He has been recognized with various awards and honors. He represented India in World Biomaterial Congresses since 1984 in Washington. He was instrumental in SBAOI becoming a member of IUS-BSE way back in 1996 (full member since 2003). He has been the Indian ambassador to the World Biomaterials Congresses since 2004 in Sydney. He is presently member of Steering Committee of the International College of Fellows, IUS-BSE.

I was lucky to be associated with Dr. Sharma for the last twenty five years as my reporting officer and Editor of this journal. I learned the basics of biomaterials science from him and the discussions with him induced a passion for research, curiosity to read more, know more and to experiment more. Being a good person with humane nature it has been a pleasure working under his leadership. I got an opportunity to accompany him during his latest visit to Liverpool University in January 2014 where he was elaborative about his PDF days with Prof. Williams at Liverpool. On the occasion of the retirement of Dr. Chandra P. Sharma, I would say that Biomaterials India is thirty four years young.

I along with the editorial team wish him a happy retired life and looking forward to work for the maturation of his vision on Indian biomaterials in next ten years.

Willi Paul

Guest Editor
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Author:Paul, Willi
Publication:Trends in Biomaterials and Artificial Organs
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Apr 1, 2014
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