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Ask an Expert: Buddy Ratner

By: , Posted on: December 4, 2016


We sit down with Buddy D. Ratner, Professor of Bioenengineering and Chemical Engineering at the University of Washington in this ten question Q&A to learn about his work and research.

  1. What is your particular area of expertise?

Biomedical polymers, biomaterials and biocompatibility

  1. How would you explain your current work to a stranger on a bus?

Replacement parts for people

  1. Where do you carry out most of your work?

My labs at the University of Washington

  1. What first inspired you to study biomaterials?

The first report on a synthetic hydrogel for medical applications was published in 1960. By 1967 I was working on these hydrogels, thinking about kidney dialysis applications.  This 1960 paper, and the work on a new class of materials inspired me to study biomaterials.

  1. What’s the most exciting part of your job?

New discoveries and working with scientists-in-training to explore those discoveries.

  1. What keeps you awake at night?

Insomnia. Just kidding. I’m excited about using polymers for healing and regeneration.

  1. What false preconceptions do people have about your job?

That I work too hard – I do work hard but I enjoy my work so it’s more like a hobby.

  1. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned this week?

That the Electoral College is a disaster for the United States.

  1. What do you think will be the next big discovery or development in your field?

A revolution in kidney dialysis that will be safer, more effective, less traumatic for the patient and cheaper.

  1. How have you used books for your own professional research and how it influenced your work, research or thinking, or help you solve a problem in your field? What outcome did it lead to?

My personal library consists of well over 1000 books. They provide tutorials, historical remembrance, inspiration and guidance.

About the book


Biomaterials Science

  • Over 29,000 copies sold, this is the most comprehensive coverage of principles and applications of all classes of biomaterials: “the only such text that currently covers this area comprehensively” – Materials Today
  • Edited by four of the best-known figures in the biomaterials field today; fully endorsed and supported by the Society for Biomaterials
  • Fully revised and expanded, key new topics include of tissue engineering, drug delivery systems, and new clinical applications, with new teaching and learning material throughout, case studies and a downloadable image bank

Want your own copy?  Save up to 25% when you order via the Elsevier store, enter code STC215 at the checkout.

About the Author

Buddy D. Ratner, Michael L. and Myrna Darland Endowed Chair in Bioengineering and Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Washington, received his Ph.D. (1972) in polymer chemistry from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. From 1985-1996 he directed the NIH-funded National ESCA and Surface Analysis Center for Biomedical Problems (NESAC/BIO), and in 1996 he assumed the directorship of University of Washington Engineered Biomaterials (UWEB), an NSF Engineering Research Center. He is the editor of the Journal of Undergraduate Research in Bioengineering, a past president of the Society for Biomaterials and author of 400 scholarly works. Ratner is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), the American Vacuum Society and a Fellow, Biomaterials Science and Engineering (FBSE). He served as president of AIMBE, 2002-2003. He is vice president of the Tissue Engineering Society International (TESI) 2003-2005. In 2002 Ratner was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering, USA, and in 2004 he won the Founder’s Award for the Society For Biomaterials. His research interests include biomaterials, tissue engineering, polymers, biocompatibility, surface analysis of organic materials, self-assembly, nanobiotechnology and RF-plasma thin film deposition.

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Biomedicine & Biochemistry

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