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Biomaterials and the future of medicine

Throughout his career, Arthur Coury has contributed to the development of implantable medical devices for the cardiovascular, orthopedic, and neurological fields, among many others. A leading expert in polymeric biomaterials, he holds more than 50 patents that helped advance medical products including cardiovascular devices, hydrogel-based devices, and drug delivery systems.

“Innovations published in many of my colleagues’ and my patents are still in use today, 40 years later,” he said.

Now, Coury will bring more than four decades of industrial and academic experience to Northeastern University as a newly appointed University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. His primary expertise lies in the understanding of polymers, having worked at top medical device and biotechnology companies including Medtronic, in Minnesota, where he served as a research fellow and the director of Polymer Technology, and Genzyme, in Boston, where he served as vice president of Biomaterials Research. In the 1970s he started the polymer group at Medtronic, where he co-invented the injection-molded polyurethane connector and other components companies still use in pacemakers.

“I would say my biggest contribution is helping with the commercialization of medical products,” Coury explained.

This semester, Coury is teaching the graduate course “Biomaterials: Principles and Applications.” He said he’s focused on growing the university’s biomaterials program and teaching students about the field’s current state and future transformations. Some of his lectures will examine how the field is shifting from replacement medicine, like giving patients’ pacemakers or knee replacements, to tissue engineering, which includes regeneration of tissues.

“We are seeing a lot of progress in research that would replace pacemakers with an injection of cells that have been genetically engineered to take over the pacemaker cells that failed in the heart,” Coury noted. “The field is going to trend more and more toward engineering the generation or restoration of natural tissues and organs.”

Coury has also already worked with new colleague Tom Webster, a professor and chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering. Coury is the co-chair of the National Research Council of the National Academies’ Roundtable on Biomedical Engineering Materials and Applications, and he has invited Webster to present on nanomedicine and 3-D printing at the group’s previous meetings.

Coury earned his bachelor of science from the University of Delaware and his MBA and doctorate from the University of Minnesota, where he also previously held a position as an adjunct professor.

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