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Two years ago, the White House declared a week in mid-June the “national week of making,” to coincide with the DC Maker Faire. Since then, they have continued this tradition, providing funding and initiatives to encourage hands-on STEM education. This year’s national week of making starts on Friday, June 17-23 and DC’s Maker Faire is June 19th and 20th. At last year’s events, President Obama said, “Makers and builders and doers— of all ages and backgrounds—have pushed our country forward, developing creative solutions to important challenges and proving that ordinary Americans are capable of achieving the extraordinary when they have access to the resources they need,” quoted on the White house blog announcing last year’s makers’ week. In this spirit, the Department of Education launched a contest three months ago to challenge high school students to design makerspaces for their schools. They could receive support for the process, such as a six-week boot camp class to learn design skills. The top winning designs will get the funding to get their space built at their schools. Winning entries will be announced soon. The NIH library is holding a series of events relating to healthcare to celebrate the week, including a special symposium on June 20: “Making Health: Inspiring Innovative Solutions for Research and Clinical Care” and another event at Georgetown University on June 23 that will showcase various organizations involved at the intersection of making and healthcare. Susannah Fox, Chief Technology Officer at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will give a keynote speech on how the democratization of technology can improve health. She also posted an article on Medium last week, about the department’s work in this area. The article featured the image above, of the first makerspace designed specifically for healthcare at the Galveston University of Texas Medical Branch hospital. It’s located on a patient floor, to help nurses and patients develop and build customized objects to improve their care. The NIH library will hold a series of classes and demos the rest of the week, including: How to print from the NIH library’s newest 3D printer Converting medical images from CT and MRI scans into 3D printable models using 3D-Slicer and ZBrush from Pixelogic Creating protein models using Chimera and how to prepare them for printing using Meshmixer An introduction to SOLIDWORKS Classes on how to use open source software such as Blender and OpenSCAD Schools and communities are encouraged to host their own events, using the hashtags weekofmaking and nationofmakers to promote them. What are you doing to celebrate the national week of making?
The Coalition for Imaging and Bioengineering Research (CIBR) is a dedicated partnership of academic radiology departments, patient advocacy groups, and industry with the mission of enhancing patient care through advances in Biomedical Imaging. My good friend and colleague Dr. Beth Ripley and I recently participated in the sixth annual Medical Technology Showcase at Capitol Hill organized by CIBR, representing the Department of Radiology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) where we emphasized the importance of 3D printing in healthcare. The annual Medical Technology showcase aims to bring examples of medical breakthroughs in imaging and bioengineering to members of congress and demonstrate how these advances are impacting patient care. In addition to educating policy makers and the public about innovative imaging technology, the event demonstrates the value of NIH funded academic research and the importance of collaborations between academia, industry and patient advocacy groups. Our display booth comprised of the Department of Radiology at BWH, the Lung Cancer Alliance, and Fujifilm was a hit among attendees and we were pleased to see the level of interest in medical 3D printing. We displayed 3D printed models that have been used for different clinical applications and our booth partners from Fujifilm demonstrated Synapse 3D, a software that allows conversion of 2D image data from CT/MRI into 3D printable files. Our goal was to demonstrate the importance of 3D printing in pre-surgical planning and how it can benefit patients by allowing surgeons to devise a patient specific treatment strategy and minimize post-surgical complications. Sheila Ross, a lung cancer survivor and patient advocate from the Lung Cancer Alliance emphasized how 3D printed models can give patients and their families a better understanding of the planned procedure. A lung model from Fujifilm demonstrating a nodule (green) and surrounding bronchioles The Lung & Brain cookies might have been slightly more popular than our 3D models It is our hope that more funding and resources will be allocated to investigate innovative medical technologies such as 3D printing, which can then be translated to impact patient care. In order to transform 3D printing from being a fad, to a mainstream tool that fosters precision medicine, evidence based benefits of its different applications will need to be demonstrated in clinical trials which will require funding. Tatiana Kelil, MD