A Special Day
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Years ago, I was lucky and met one of those special and rare people in life. A person who has a profound and positive impact on the lives of others. This person is someone that I credit with a number of things, including my still being here. He was a teacher -- a Sensei in the truest sense of the word. He stoked a love of history, taught me many things about marksmanship, and made me think about what it meant to pull the trigger. He did that for a lot of us, so that when and if the day came we were prepared for all the consequences. He also took an interest I had in things medical and helped turn it into something more.
One of the bright spots of the last ten years has been the ability to work with those who heal. Biotechnology, structure-based drug design, and advanced medical treatments have been a special and treasured part of my work and life. Heck, I'm hoping they have some of the things ready soon so that I can take advantage of them. When I moved to the wilds of NW Indiana, ways have come up to continue such associations and explorations.
Since moving up here, a true honor and a privilege was being introduced to another of those rare and special people. Dr. Leslie A. Geddes has literally influenced the lives of millions through his research. There is no way to do it justice, for it covers a broad range. He and his teams have done work in pacemakers and even derived two of the laws for heart defibrillation. If you know someone who has an implantable defibrillator, they should thank Dr. Geddes. He developed a special non-invasive monitor that checks the blood pressure and more on premature and low birth weight babies. He and his team also discovered a natural material that is rejection proof and is being used to repair or replace everything from ligaments to organ tissue. This is just a taste of the benefits that he has brought to the world.
Even more important, however, is the impact he has had on education. He has been "that teacher" for many, and his emphasis on translating results into useful products has literally changed the field. He has influenced not merely the industry leaders of today, but is still continuing to influence and shape the biomedical leaders of tomorrow.
Yes, still. Though he cheerfully retired from administrative duties back in the early 90's, he still shows up at 0430 hours each morning to run research, educate, and develop the things that will benefit even more people. Being 85 and not having the greatest eyesight anymore does not slow him down. If you want to talk with him, you better be there for his 0600 break...
And, yes, there is a military tie in here. Back in WWII, he started as a combat engineer before being sent into research. I am told there is a great story out there about him, a commanding officer's bunker, and... well, that would be telling and I have yet to get him to tell it. He did electromyographs on wounded, helping chart nerve damage they had suffered. He has continued to do work affecting soldiers, and I hope to have one day his permission to share some of that with you.
September 22 is a special day. The Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue, for which he laid the foundation for through his work starting back in 1974, is dedicating its new home. I am given to understand that there will be an announcement during that dedication. A bit later, there will be a special symposium, a tribute to him that will feature leaders of industry, former students, and friends. Both the dedication and the symposium are to be streamed at http://www.itap.purdue.edu/presentations/live/. The dedication is scheduled for 1030 hours Eastern time, and the symposium is scheduled to start at 1330 hours. Not sure what else will be streamed, but those two are supposed to be on.
I hope you will have a chance to check it out.