’My aorta was dilating all through that period,’ said Golesworthy. ’When you’ve got the scalpel of Damocles hanging over your sternum, it motivates you into making things happen and so they do…to me it seemed like a ridiculously obvious solution. The only way to do this was with CAD and RP. It shouldn’t have taken an engineer to realise that, but it did.’
Golesworthy believes that projects such as this demonstrate that the interface between engineers and the rest of the world isn’t functioning in the way it should. ’When it does function, huge advances can be made in a very short time period, on very little money,’ he said. ’We have changed the world for people with aortic dilation and we have done it on a fraction of the cost.’
’They are all biologists and medics, and they need process engineers,’ he said. ’To tissue engineer an aorta and ascending valve outside of the body you have got to mimic the conditions in which they would normally grow. You need a bioreactor extraordinaire and that, really, is process engineering.’
With funding constraints likely to impact on healthcare research, the ability of engineers to work alongside biologists and chemists in the future will prove crucial. As Golesworthy proved, despite the millions being poured into medical research, sometimes it just takes an engineer to see the solution in areas where others have been unable to.