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Setton advocates for research funding on Capitol Hill

BMES president Lori Setton visited Capitol Hill this month to speak about how biomedical engineering research can help stem the opioid drug crisis.
Setton was joined by Sandford University bioengineering professor Christina Smolke. The event was organized by the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Setton explained that research areas, such as drug delivery, could play a key role in combatting the epidemic. For example, research is underway to create pain relief drugs that are contained within nano particles. Using that technology, a surgeon could leave pain medication exactly in the spot where, for example, a joint replacement procedure was performed. The localized medicine could eliminate the need to take an oral, opioid drug.

Researchers need federal funding to perform that kind of research, Setton said. Grants from the National Institutes of Health, and National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering play an important role in advancing the research. Setton is the department chair of biomedical engineering at Washington University in St. Louis.

Smolke discussed research that looks to brew certain drugs in the lab, rather than relying on source plants like poppies. She said the brewing method would not only be safer, but researchers could manipulate the drugs to be less addictive.