The Good Fight
Forty-three years after Congress declared the conquest of cancer to be a national crusade, the disease still afflicts a third of the population and kills more than half a million Americans annually. The death rate is declining but at a snail’s pace. Still, National Cancer Institute Director Harold Varmus told C-Span recently he sees “tremendous hope for faster progress” because there is now a much greater understanding of the disease. Enter engineers, who are enabling medical researchers to turn that understanding into more accurate diagnoses and more effective treatments. As Sarah Khan reports in our cover story, “Cancer Warriors,” the new technology includes a “micropump” that can deliver precise doses of cancer drugs to pediatric patients, tumor-shrinking nanoparticles, and an endoscope capable of producing tiny, high-resolution images.
Such a grim topic requires special care with illustrations. When in doubt, our design team opts for sheer beauty, as fulfilled in Francis Igot’s Matisse-inspired cover and Lung-I Lo’s Dali-esque two-page collage.
Since biomedical engineering is this issue’s theme, it’s an appropriate time to launch a new feature, Lab to Market, which will appear from time to time. Our first story explores new web-based efforts to link researchers with industry and investors. Future articles will explore in greater depth the various ways that innovations arising from university research can be commercialized.
With this issue, we also welcome Mel Chua, who succeeds Mark Raleigh as our student columnist. Having earned a Ph.D., Mark is no longer a student. Mel, who has a flair for drawing as well as for writing, is a graduate student in Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education.
We hope you enjoy the January Prism. Please send us your comments.