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BioNet Event: a summary

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  • BioNet Event: a summary

    Dear Biomch-l members:
    The BioNet project aims to give the diverse and multidisciplinary facets of
    European biomechanics enhanced coherence and thus make a significant impact
    on the important current issues. This will be achieved by establishing
    Working Groups to concentrate on the biomechanics problems that are agreed,
    by consensus, to be of the greatest contemporary significance.

    Central to the project was the BioNet Event, "Biomechanics in the Decade of
    the Bone & Joint", which took place in Brussels on 27-29th April 2002. The
    Event was a "one-off" forum for the strategic development of biomechanics
    in Europe, and it was specifically designed to be different from a
    conventional conference and to provide a unique contemporary view of
    biomechanics in Europe.

    The event was opened by welcome remarks of Prof. Franz Burny, on behalf of
    the Free University of Brussels, and of Bernard Smith, Head of Cultural
    Heritage Applications Unit, on behalf of the European Commission. These
    opening addresses were not ritualistic, as Prof. Burny has been one of the
    founders of the European Society of biomechanics and Mr. Smith voiced the
    attention that the EC has for our community, also expressed in the reply we
    received from the Commissioner for Research, Philippe Busquin.

    The event was opened by several plenary lectures aimed at establishing the
    cultural background. John Paul and Rik Huiskes reflected on the past of
    musculo-skeletal modelling, while John O'Connor and Herbert Hatze
    illustrated some of the possible future challenges. Because of the
    differences in research interests, age and cultural background among the
    speakers, this opening session was really useful in setting a basis on top
    of which to build up the event.

    In the afternoon we split into two parallel sessions with invited lectures
    on musculo-skeletal modelling in 'Education and Clinical Practice' and in
    'Medical and Industrial Design'. You can see the detailed list of the
    speakers in the program on the BioNet web site. What I can say here is
    that the quality of most presentations was impressive, and the two sessions
    really set the state of the art of biomechanics research worldwide in the
    area of musculo-skeletal modelling.

    The second day started with the 'Get it Off Your Chest' session. 15
    statements were briefly presented by 15 speakers, and constituted the basis
    of the discussion for the rest of the day. Most of the statements
    originated from the discussions we had on BIOMCH-L in the past few months.
    However, the list of statements was left open until the end of the first
    Event day, to let all delegates to contribute to it with very basic aspects
    that for some reasons had been ignored in the preliminary discussion. See
    the link below for the final list of statements.

    In order to simplify the discussion, and to ensure that it would develop in
    the most effective and inclusive way, we decided to group the statements in
    the (more or less) homogenous discussion groups. Workgroup A collected all
    statements related to the musculo-skeletal modelling and more in general on
    research in the biomechanical modelling. Workgroup B focused on the
    infrastructures that would make biomechanics research more effective and
    useful. It collected all the statements on the sharing of research
    results, as well as those on the need of establishing a virtual community
    for biomechanics. Workgroup C collected statements related to several
    specific contexts of biomechanics research, in particular ergonomy-safety
    and biomechanics of biomaterials and tissue analogues. I have been told
    that all discussions were heated but constructive. I chaired WG-B,,
    together with Serge Van Sint Jan, and it was perfect. For sure, all topics
    that had been discussed in BIOMCH-L proved to be easier to sort out. If
    needed once again we got the confirmation of the usefulness of this mailing
    list. The BioNet delegates acknowledged the work of the BIOMCH-L
    moderators with a long applause during the final plenary session.

    All delegates got back together in a plenary session in the late afternoon
    and one reporter for each workgroup summarised the main conclusions. It
    was agreed that the work done should progress by drawing multiple consensus
    documents to be prepared soon after the end of the event. We shall keep
    you posted when they are available. The Event was concluded by John
    O'Connor, who provided a European perspective, and by Steven Stanhope, who
    elaborated an American perspective. Steven made a terrific contribution to
    our Event and provided us some very useful directions for the future work.
    Steven, Tom Kepple, Krystyna Gielo-Perczak, and a few other colleagues
    working in the USA had a key role in the success of the Event.

    It was late when the Event was formally closed. I was tired and my brain
    was spinning at 3000 rpm for the huge amount of information I got in two
    days. But above it, most of the late attendees expressed a sense of
    accomplishment, an impression that something of useful had been laid down.
    Only the future will tell us if this is true or not. What I can tell you
    right now is that I belong to a fantastic community, made of free souls and
    positive thinkers (dreamers?). We just need more BioNet events to make
    this evident.

    Also, I realised that separating biomechanics in European, American,
    Japanese, etc. does not make sense. We may be forced to play on separate
    tables for research grants, logistic issues, and possibly for political
    problems. But in the long run the only thing we should care of, as
    researchers, is the excellence we can achieve as global community.

    With sympathy

    Marco Viceconti
    on behalf of the BioNet consortium

    ps: there are many follow-up activities starting up! We shall keep you posted.

    Laboratorio di Tecnologia Medica tel. 39-051-6366865
    Istituti Ortopedici Rizzoli fax. 39-051-6366863
    via di barbiano 1/10, 40136 - Bologna, Italy

    Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright in the forest of the night,
    what immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?
    Opinions expressed here do not necessarly reflect those of my employer

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