Just returned from the trip to Chicago to visit the 63rd edition of the ASAIO conference, LifeTec Group's R&D Director Marco Stijnen looks back on this event and shares his thoughts:

Arend de Weger, Noemi Vanerio, Marco Stijnen
Chicago is an impressive city

"First of all, Chicago is an impressive city and therefore a great venue to spend some time! The city center was very clean, and very pleasant looking with a lot of space for green, flowers and plants and a mix of old and new style architecture.

And of course plenty of locations that one would recognize from the movies, as a lot of film locations have been in Chicago (elevated trains in ‘the Blues Brothers’ or ‘While You Were Sleeping’, the boat cruises on the river from ‘My Best Friends’ Wedding’, and so on)."

Noemi Vanerio @ ASAOI Chicago 2017

"The conference itself focused on artificial organs, but also on technologies that can at least temporarily replace the function of a native organ such that the patient has more time until a donor organ becomes available. It was a great experience to accompany Noemi, one of our promising young talents, on her first exposure to such a big event.

To her, the various presentations were really feeding her curiosity and she was almost bouncing from happiness to be part of it. Of course, come her own time to present, she showed some positive nervousness building up and she managed very well her first presentation of her research on a global podium."

Noemi Vanerio | practicing for ASAOI in a LifeTec Group in company meeting

"Her research on keeping harvested blood vessels alive for more than a week, to initiate a disease in the blood vessels during their culture, and to show the results of a treatment of the diseased vessels with a stent graft was met with great enthusiasm from the audience, and even the session chairmen came to meet us afterwards to get more information on Noemi’s research efforts!"


(Following the meeting, Noemi went on to a well-deserved two weeks road trip through California with some of her friends from Italy.)

"The ASAIO conference presented also a great opportunity to spend some time with some of our friends working in the (pre-)clinical side of things." Marco says. "It was great to meet our long term friend and colleague dr. Egemen Tuzun, who was involved as one of the organizers of the event. Our relationship with Egemen goes back about a decade, when he was doing experiments with LifeTec’ Group's PhysioHeart platform as part of his own PhD research."

"Furthermore, as always, it was great to spend some time with dr. Arend de Weger, working as a cardiac surgeon at the Leiden University Medical Center.

Arend has been working with LifeTec Group from the very beginning of the PhysioHeart platform development, as his institute was involved in animal research and the combination of clinicians and bioengineers has led in the end to the PhysioHeart platform as it is today." 

Dr Arend de Weger, keynote lecture @ ASAIO Chicago 2017

"And while on that topic, this is exactly what Arend presented in the conference as a keynote lecture;

Physicians meeting Engineers, which has led to a great collaboration and a very interesting research tool which today plays an important role also in clinical research, as proven by some very interesting work to improve MRI imaging sequences and the possibility to image 4D flow patterns in the vicinity of prosthetic cardiac devices that is impossible today."

"But besides our own presentation, it is a great experience to witness the presentations of our fellows in the community and to shine a light from two different perspectives that our backgrounds bring; my (Marco’s -red.-) view from the engineering side and Arend’s view from the clinical perspective. And to subsequently continue these interesting conversations in the (late) hours of the evening, enjoying some local beers and a classical music concert in Millenium Park, typical local dishes in the many restaurants in the area, and of course the great surroundings of downtown Chicago."

The main interest of Marco to visit the event is of course to see what’s happening towards the future: 

"The bulk of the research presented was on ventricular support pumps and total artificial hearts, where we have been already successful to provide the failing heart mode in the PhysioHeart platform and study the performance of these pumps. But also in topics as kidney failure and lung disease there were some interesting developments, although much less advanced than heart support. Enough information to serve as inspiration for future developments at LifeTec Group, to come up with new research platforms that could support the new directions that are explored by the biomedical community. One especially interesting concept is that of bio-based artificial organs, where real cells are living inside a prosthesis to improve the functionality and decrease potential complications of replacement organs. Although that may sound a bit like science fiction movies and is still far away from clinical application, Chicago is not a strange place for making movies and real progress is being made in this direction."

Head of MedTech Innovation

Marco Stijnen

R&D Engineer

Noemi Vanerio


Hey Noemi, what a good Job! Nice pictures. Good experience.
Pim Dusée

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