fining the membership. In the early 1970s, the IOM Committee on Science Policy for Medicine and Health established as a priority interdisciplinary research collaboration between the life sciences and medicine and the physical sciences and engineering, including the innovation of medical devices. In the early 1980s, further activities facilitated interdisciplinary interactions between the physical sciences and medicine, including the formation of a Working Group on Interdisciplinary Collaboration, also supported by the Whitaker Foundation, and a Committee on Promoting Research Collaboration. Topics addressed by these groups included federal policy, the academic-industrial interface, the role of private foundations, and the role of university and teaching hospital structures in facilitating interdisciplinary research. Interdisciplinary Research: Promoting Collaboration Between the Life Sciences and Medicine and the Physical Sciences and Engineering was published in 1990, stating that, “The committee recognized two different motivations for collaborative research: (1) the desire to increase understanding of natural phenomena, and (2) the need to provide practical benefits.”
To address directly “practical benefits” in terms of new medical devices and explore important issues and interrelationships of engineering, medicine, invention, and public policy, the NAE and IOM, in their first major collaborative effort, jointly convened the symposium, New Medical Devices: Factors Influencing Invention, Development, and Use, in March 1987. The symposium brought physicians, engineers, and scientists together with industry executives, lawyers, ethicists, economists, and government officials to explore key factors that would influence development and use of innovative medical devices during the next decade. Symposium participants identified current trends in federal and private support of technological innovation, medical device regulation, product liability, and health care reimbursement. In addition, participants addressed important general issues, such as how to sustain technological innovation and health care quality in a rapidly changing health care environment, and how to encourage and support inventors.
After the highly successful symposium, in 1988 the National Academy Press published New Medical Devices: Invention, Development and Use, which addressed the three major themes: (1) innovation and use of new medical devices; (2) current trends in federal and private support of technological innovation, medical device regulation, product liability, and health care reimbursement; and (3) several perspectives on how these trends interact to influence the availability and appropriate use of new medical devices.
At the 1988 symposium, five inventors reported that basic science advances were of little direct relevance in their innovation of Technion’s Auto Analyzer, plasmapheresis, the pneumatic extradural intracranial pressure monitor, the electronic retinoscope, the first successful implantable cardiac pacemaker, and wheelchairs for the third world. Edward B.Roberts of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School, said “innovation in medical devices is usually based on engineering problem-solving by individuals or small firms, is often incremental rather than radical, seldom depends on the results of long-term