Speaker: Bill Doherty, executive vice-president EMEA, Cook Medical
Medical treatment is set to be revolutionised over the coming decade as advances in technology means that the management of illness and disease will become a more personalised experience.
Speaking at a presentation in the University of Limerick, organised by Engineers Ireland and the Materials and Surface Science Institute at the university, Bill Doherty, executive vice-president EMEA with Cook Medical, explained how the future of medicine is set to radically change. “We believe that the future of medical devices is going to change significantly over the next 10-20 years,” said Doherty.
He explained many of the medical devices currently in use are made from metals and plastics, but the company is investing major time and resources into areas such as biopharma, cell therapy and gene therapy. “In the future, medicine is going to become much more personalised, instead of the ‘carpet bombing’ of medicine,” said Doherty.
“So, with somebody who has cancer, we treat them with various drugs which affect the whole body, when really we only want to affect one part of body. This is the reason we are moving into these areas.”
According to Doherty, an individual can currently get their personal genome number or DNA print out at a cost of approximately $5,000. This figure he predicts is set to fall to $500 in just five years, as advances in the relevant technologies are developed. As this process becomes more simplified and easier to manage, it will be a case of the patient attending a GP’s surgery and simply giving a blood sample or mouth swab in order to obtain this detailed medical information.
Doherty goes on to describe the work done at the company’s Limerick research and manufacturing plant in the city’s National Technology Park, which employs over 750 people. He also outlines the close ties the company has with the University of Limerick (UL), which currently sees over 100 UL graduates, including 36 engineering graduates, working at Cook Medical.
During the presentation, he goes into great detail regarding the development of new products and how these are brought to the marketplace, with the initial focus on the disease in question, not on what the competition are doing.
“We encourage our engineers to get out there and talk to the doctors, really understand the procedure and really understand what the issues are clinically. If you focus on that, you really have a good chance of succeeding,” said Doherty.
Doherty describes the medical device design and manufacturing operation at the Cook Medical plant in Limerick and outlines typical end uses of its products. He describes the typical roles that engineers play in the design and manufacturing process and the skills required by graduates to fulfill these roles. He also outlines the design-to-commercialisation process for new products, regulation in the medical device manufacture industry and the Cook experience with engineering and technology graduates. Finally, he describes the Cook/UL research project on the development of a novel alloy for stent manufacture.
Click the link below to access the full presentation.