Page 14 - Engineering Penn State Magazine: Spring/Summer 2019
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Law, Policy, and Engineering initiative gathers more support with second symposium
by Ashley WennersHerron
Experts from across the United States gathered at Penn
State on April 11 to plan for next-generation devices for biotechnology and biomedicine. The second event hosted under the Law, Policy, and Engineering initiative, it was jointly sponsored by the College of Engineering, Penn State Law, and the School of International Affairs.
This symposium, which was also sponsored by the Penn State College of Medicine and chaired by Andrew Zydney, the Bayard D. Kunkle Chair and professor of chemical engineering, brought together researchers and members of industry to discuss the potential legal ramifications, policy framework, and technical know-how required to support and guide the accelerated advancement of biodevices.
“It’s by bringing together a wide range of expertise and wisdom that we can begin to find a new path forward and most effectively serve the commonwealth and the world,” said Penn State President Eric Barron, in his welcoming remarks. He pointed to the breadth and depth of research
at Penn State, which has more than $900 million in annual research expenditures. “Given the complexity of the problems our world faces, it’s clear that we need collaboration, creativity, innovation, and expertise in many areas. The Law, Policy, and Engineering initiative is one way of bringing the right people together to accomplish this goal.”
Humans have used technology interfaces, such as sensors and light signals, for decades. Interfacing has grown to interactions—a person can operate their home’s lights from
across the world, just by asking their phone. Now, medical biodevices are growing more advanced and, with them, so are the questions surrounding the relationships people have with machines.
“Technology is a part of our lives. More and more, it’s becoming a part of us,” said Justin Schwartz, the Harold
and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering. “Implantable cardio devices help us live longer, artificial hips and knees, and spinal implants help our exoskeleton keep pace with our ever- increasing lifespan. Rapid advances in biotechnology promise to continue to greatly enhance and lengthen our lives, while also challenging what it means to be truly human.”
Schwartz cautioned that the work is just beginning, reminding the audience that today’s commonplace technology was the stuff of science fiction just a decade ago. In another decade, it’ll be rudimentary.
“Law and policy often struggle to appropriately regulate fast- moving science and technology,” said Hari Osofsky, dean of Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs. “Next generation devices for biotechnology and biomedicine pose complex technological, ethical, and legal issues and are an important example of why we need collaboration among engineers, lawyers, and industry and public policy leaders. My hope is that today’s dialogue is just the beginning of a collaboration on these crucial issues, and I am excited about how we might build from here.” n

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