Engineering and Living Systems
“Our knowledge of living systems has been based, for the most part, on the tripod of anatomy, biochemistry, and physiology. The contributions of the physical and engineering sciences and mathematics have been relatively few, and their interrelationships with biology and medicine have been casual ones. Moreover, for the last quarter century, precisely measured social and behavioral science has begun to contribute to our health and to the prevention and treatment of disease. It is the purpose of this book to indicate how the biology and medicine of the future can be built on a foundation consisting of all of these disciplines in order better to understand the nature of health and disease in the individual and to design more viable and complete medical care programs.”
The proposed program points up the need for an administrative structure to aid the flow of concepts, ideas, knowledge, and technology among those concerned both within and without the university. The kinds of experts needed to bridge the existing gaps between the disciplines are defined. Educational programs are outlined for full-time specialists, research participants, and practitioners in both engineering and medicine. A careful description is given of the stepwise process, including interaction with industry to apply development in the engineering sense to biology and medicine. A detailed example of the application of systems analysis and operations research to the development of a specific medical care program is included.
This book examines the general principles learned during the exploration of a joint program between Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which was summarized by the authors in a Report to the National Academy of Engineering. The authors recognized the impossibility of providing specific recommendations for the future in the many fields comprised by engineering and living systems. Cooperation was obtained of outstanding experts on the two faculties who prepared sixteen task group reports under the following headings: artificial internal organs; bioengineering curricula; biological control systems; continuing education; diagnostic instrumentation; diagnostic processes; image processing and visualization techniques; medical care microsystems; neurophysiology; organ and cell culture and storage; physiological monitoring; physiological systems analysis; regionalization of health services (macrosystems); sensory aids; skeletal prostheses; and subcellular engineering. The task group reports, included in toto in this book, provide the documentation for the general conclusions of the authors.
This book supplements existing medical programs with a new research approach to increase fundamental knowledge, and points the way to better medical care through more efficient application of engineering, technology, and systems development.