‘The scientists of tomorrow’

08. May 2019

Annual block course brings ETH Zurich and ZHAW students to Davos for hands-on training experience

Fifty-six students from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences campus in Winterthur explored a variety of skeletal repair topics during a hands-on skeletal repair course, April 26–27, 2019, at the AO Center in Davos.

The group—33 master’s students from the ETH Zurich Department of Health Sciences and Technology and 23 bachelor’s biomedical engineering students from ZHAW—got the rare opportunity to learn from world-class skeletal repair experts and work in the state-of-the art AO Research Institute Davos (ARI) labs. 

Organized by ARI Principal Scientist Sibylle Grad, PhD, the two-day annual event provides participants with a rich and unique learning experience. Students worked together in teams to explore a variety of skeletal repair topics, including bioreactor-guided whole organ cultures of intervertebral discs, adenovirus transfection, 3-D printing, implant infection, in vivo model for skeletal research, cartilage bioreactor, joint anatomy, and endoprosthesis materials. Additionally, the course included two case-based clinical workshops to provide participants with basic knowledge of clinical and radiological techniques, reading and understanding X-ray images and evaluating mechanisms of injuries.

“What was really unique about this course were its hands-on aspect and the opportunities for students to interact closely with the surgeons,” said Grad who also is adjunct professor in biomedical engineering in the Health Sciences and Technologies Department at ETH Zurich. “At ARI, we are helping to train the scientists of tomorrow—and that is important because there still are a lot of unsolved clinical questions in the area of skeletal repair.”

Contributing key expertise for the event with Dr Veit Shoenborn and Dr Raphael Jenni from Kantonsspital Graubünden in Chur, and Prof Dr Daniel Baumgartner and Prof Dr Bernd Heinlein from the ZHAW School of Engineering, as well as ARI scientists from the Musculoskeletal Regeneration Program, Biomedical Development Programs, Musculoskeletal Infection Group, and the Preclinical Services team.