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David F. Williams, DSc, FREng

David F. Williams, D.Sc., FREng., Professor and Director of International Affairs

David Williams was trained as a materials scientist and has 48 years experience in the medical device/tissue engineering fields. He was at the University of Liverpool, UK for many years, where he was Head of Clinical Engineering, Director, UK Centre for Tissue Engineering and Pro Vice Chancellor of the University; he is now Emeritus Professor of Liverpool. He was appointed as Professor and Director of International Affairs, Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine in 2008 and is also a Visiting Professor, Christiaan Barnard Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Cape Town, South Africa, a Guest Professor, at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, Advisory Professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China and Visiting Professor at Taipei Medical University, Taiwan. He is Chairman and Founding Director of the South African company Strait Access Technologies Pty. He was the Editor-in-Chief, Biomaterials, the world’s leading journal in this field for 15 years until 2014. He was Global President of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society from 2012 to 2015. He has written or edited 40 books, including the recently published Essential Biomaterials Science, and produced over 420 scientific papers. He received the prestigious Founders Award of the US Society for Biomaterials in 2007 and the Acta Biomaterialia Gold Medal in 2012. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering of the UK, a Foreign Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.

SYNOPSIS OF AREA OF INTEREST: The main areas of interest have been in the development and selection of biomaterials, the science of biocompatibility in relation to medical devices and tissue engineering scaffolds, material degradation and the design and performance of medical devices including heart valves.

DETAILED AREA OF INTEREST: Having established one of Europe’s first biomaterials laboratories in 1968, Williams has since concentrated on the development, selection, evaluation and clinical use of biomaterials in the fields of medical devices and regenerative medicine. In recent years, as Director of the UK Centre for Tissue Engineering and Scientific Director of the European Program on the Systems Engineering Approach to Tissue Engineering, he has focused on the increasingly important issues of the biocompatibility of materials used in the various forms of medical technology and also on the infrastructure issues concerned with the transition from medical device technology to regenerative medicine.

It has become increasingly obvious that the paradigms that define the biocompatibility of materials used in medical devices no longer apply to the materials for regenerative medicine. His work over several decades has concentrated on the understanding of the mechanisms of host-material interactions in implantable devices, including the techniques for the quantification of such interactions. For the majority of such devices, these mechanisms are now largely understood and appropriate materials chosen. With regenerative medicine, and especially tissue engineering scaffolds, quite different approaches have become necessary and the work of his research groups in Europe has concentrated on the development of degradable systems that display bioactivity without the stimulation of inflammation or immune responses. In his latest book, Essential Biomaterials Science, he has developed a unified theory of biocompatibility, based on a series of defined biocompatibility pathways; detailed discussions of these are currently being published in major scientific journals.

The maturity of the implantable medical device sector and the transition to regenerative medicine has also involved cultural, economic and legal changes as well as technical ones and much of my research and general activities in the last decade have been focused on these matters. Williams has been an advisor to the European Commission and Parliament on the economic, ethical and regulatory issues of regenerative medicine. He has also explored a wide variety of global issues concerned with the international commercialization of medical technology, writing reports for the British Government on both China and Japan. He has been working on new developments to provide better access to medical technologies in Africa; as Chairman of Strait Access Technologies in Cape Town South Africa he has been involved with innovative minimally invasive approaches to the treatment of rheumatic heart disease in children in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2006 Williams published his first book of poetry.

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