Welcome to UW Biomaterials

The launch and growth of biomaterials at the University of Washington

The University of Washington (UW) has had major impact on medical devices and biomaterials. In the early 1960’s the first chronic hemodialysis system was developed at the UW. Notably, Wayne Quinton, a bioengineer working at the UW Medicine machine shop, engineered the first hemodialysis access shunt, later known as the Quinton-Scribner shunt. Quinton integrated in the shunt a recently developed, novel material called “Teflon.” Prof. Les Babb of the UW Chemical Engineering Department also contributed to this interdisciplinary team effort, led by Belding Scribner, M.D. This visionary team produced the first chronic dialysis system and the world’s first dialysis center opened in Seattle in 1962.

Along with pioneering efforts in dialysis, doppler ultrasound was developed at UW Bioengineering and now Washington State is a hotbed of ultrasound development and commercialization. Many other shunts, grafts and medical devices have originated from the UW Engineering and Medicine.

The UW program in biomaterials development was launched with the arrival of Professor Allan S. Hoffman in 1970. By 1972, Professors Tom Horbett and Buddy Ratner were actively integrated into UW biomaterials research. In 1983, the National ESCA and Surface Analysis Center for Biomedical Problems (NESAC/BIO) was launched at the UW, with funding over a 35 period from the NIH. In 1995, the NSF funded University of Washington Engineered Biomaterials, an engineering research center. This center continued for 11 years under NSF funding and is still active with funding independent of the NSF. These programs, and many other funded efforts in numerous UW department have elevated the UW biomaterials research community to over 30 professors, and hundreds of researchers, students and staff.

Biomaterials researchers at the University of Washington.

Professor Allan Hoffman who launched biomaterials at the UW is in the front row, center.


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