I was proud to see the top 3D bioprinting event to be held in Hungary this September. I contacted the organizers and asked Péter Maróti to answer a few questions to give a clear picture about what attendees can expect and where the industry of 3D bioprinting is heading.
One of, if not, the biggest events in 3D bioprinting will be held in Pécs, Hungary this September. How did you get the chance to organize the event?
The recent years has clearly shown that 3D technologies became essential parts of numerous applications in most scientific fields. This has been recognized by the University of Pécs when Prof. József Bódis (the Rector of UP) initiated last year an innovative and multidisciplinary project focusing on these applications. To foster and accelerate the initial steps of concept building and planning we established a coordination team from members of the various faculties of the University. This team works under the umbrella of the Szentágothai Research Center and a few months ago secured financial funds from and EU grant for the early period of the project. We invited experts from several related fields and asked them to share their expertise and knowledge with our scientific community.
Simultaneously, we established collaborations with potential industrial and scientific partners. We organize the 1. International Interdisciplinary 3D Conference in Pécs as a closing event of this series of lectures, and at the same time as the beginning of the future projects that we plan to manifest at our University. So we believe this will be the cherry on the cake for the first project that summarizes and expands what we learnt in the previous months. This time our interdisciplinary conference will place strong emphasis on bioprinting techniques and methods.
Who are the major speakers and what are the major topics that will be covered?
It is really hard to answer this question, because lots of honorable scientists and researchers confirmed their participation in the workshop. The audience will hear exciting and fruitful lectures on bioprinting, focusing on how 3D biomodelling can help us both in research and clinical therapy. To mention a few components, Prof. Pongracz Judit will present how we can use them in examination of carciogenesis and cancer therapy. We will also gain information about 3D bioprinter devices thanks to Danny Cabrera from BioBots. Dr. Claudio Migliaresi will give a talk about cell encapsulation and printing. There will be workshops on other promising topics too, with Dr. Antonella Motta, Dr. Florian Thieringer, David Correa Z. and others. Of course besides bioprinting other applications of 3D technologies will be presented as well. György Falk, as the representative of Stratasys, Dr. Jochen Zimmer from Makerbot and other well recognised colleagues from the 3D printing industry will participate on this conference including artists and engineers.
What results do you expect to see due to the event?
First of all, this meeting should provide a great framework for every interested colleagues and partners to gain knowledge and information about these promising technologies and the tendencies dominating the field. Being interdisciplinary is obviously an advantage in many aspects and appears to be essential for the success on a longer run. However, in interdisciplinary projects the communication is a key issue as the participants come from different fields. These people when working together must achieve and maintain the proper understanding of each other for the fruitful collaborations. We believe that this and similar meeting should play a central role in the related communication efforts.
Apart from this we also aim to direct the attention of students to the related research fields. Considering that on a long term we would like to establish a 3D printing center in our region and also to establish an active, innovative and in many fields leading network of scientists, engineers and professional users, we expect that this conference with the related lectures and personal discussions will provide the intellectual basis for the proper planning of these ambitious future projects. We also hope that the meeting will serve as an excellent platform for the potential partners to establish their collaborations.
Where is bioprinting heading at the moment? How much time do you think it needs to become a common element of everyday healthcare?
It is difficult to tell, though several professional studies dealt with this question recently. Some companies promise that they will print fully functional organs in 3-5 years. It seems to us an overoptimistic prognosis. On the other hand some of these technologies are already abundantly used in research projects. The field of everyday applications is probably just before an explosion thanks to the cheaper bioprinters that are more and more wide-spread. What we envisage is that in the next few years the 3D biomodels become a common thing in a researcher’s toolbox, replacing many experiments on animals and patients. But who knows, this field is growing and developing extremely fast, and maybe the optimists are right that – even if not in 3-5 years, but – in 8-10 years 3D printed organ transplantation will be an everyday procedure in the clinics.