Bioengineering is a technological miracle of health care and future health hope. From the entrepreneurial contributions of William Kolff with the original handmade dialysis machine to the application of the x-ray to medical diagnostics and treatment, biomedical pioneers brought technology to medical care, often at great personal risk. Few can conceive the magnitude of the impact of technology on our ability to return the sick and disabled to function. The “simple” steel and plastic hip implant is a technological wonder. The human is the most demanding of systems to be repaired by technology. The stress levels, cycle loading, chemical degradation and even biological rejection are without precedent in engineering application. Reliability is expected to be near 100%. Psychological and cosmetic compatibility are severe constraints. The current quality of life of many (if not most) of us is dependent upon technology, and forefront technology at that. The dentist no longer hurts and our teeth last longer. Numerous “replacements” are cosmetically acceptable. Medical diagnosties are everywhere, but have a long way to go. Emergency medicine is high-tech. The wonders of bioengineering are in our present and in our future. It is informative to review our bioengineering heritage from early orthopedics (splints, peg legs and crutches), through mobility facilitation (wheelchairs) and internal repair (aortic patches and arterial replacement) to modern diagnostics (MRI) and organ replacement (artificial hearts, kidneys, etc.). A recent renewed interest in biomedical devices paralleling the decoding of the genome and the proposed genetic future portends what Dr. Francis Fukuyama of Johns Hopkins called “Our Post Human Future.” We will explore our historical pathway to what we will call “our better human future through bioengineering.”

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