NTU established the NTU Interdisciplinary Exchange Meetings as a way to promote mutual understanding among the university’s colleges and create opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration. Each month or two, NTU’s 11 colleges and the NTU Hospital take turns hosting the meeting on a rotating basis. Following a meeting jointly organized by the College of Social Sciences and College of Law in March, the latest meeting was hosted by NTU Hospital on May 30.
NTU Hospital’s most important mission is the cultivation of teaching, research, and service professionals. For its NTU Interdisciplinary Exchange Meeting, the hospital invited NTU President Pan Chyr-Yang, university- and college-level officials, and faculty members from each of the university’s colleges to a day of exciting talks and inspiring conversations. The meeting, which drew a record-high attendance of more than 160 participants, centered on five topics introduced by NTU Hospital professors.
Prof. Chih-Hsin Yang opened the meeting with a briefing on the hospital’s National Center of Excellence for Clinical Trial and Research. Established in 2005, the center endeavors to provide a world-class research environment and operating system for conducting clinical trials aimed at the development of new drugs, vaccines, and medical instruments.
The center was awarded the National Industry Innovation Award in 2011 and has garnered praise from international biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies and research institutions that have come to Taiwan to cooperate in conducting clinical trials. The center also actively seeks opportunities to cooperate with local biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in developing new medical products.
Prof. Yang pointed out that the center currently focuses on clinical trials and research on molecular targeted therapy for the major forms of cancer in Taiwan (lung, liver, and gastric cancer), cardiovascular diseases, and the stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori. It is also branching out into other areas, including diabetes and metabolic diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and nerves and neurological diseases.
Next, Prof. Jin-Shing Chen addressed the issue of “Taking the Needs of Patients as Motivation for Innovative Medical Treatment and Research,” emphasizing some of the hospital’s research results that reflect its concern about the needs of the patients. For example, due to the high rate of recurrence following the traditional treatment of primary spontaneous pneumothorax, the hospital adopted an innovative treatment that not only reduces the rate of recurrence, but also avoids increasing pain for patients. Also, as early lung cancer screening using low-dose computed tomography has made it possible to detect lung cancer tumors of one centimeter or less in size, the hospital followed up with a minimally invasive procedure that relies on the latest preoperative tumor localization technology and non-intubated video-assisted thoracic surgery.
The third speaker, Prof. Tsung-Lin Yang, discussed “Applications of Interdisciplinary Technology in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery,” highlighting the rapid development of new technologies and techniques for medical treatment. In particular, Prof. Yang emphasized how the emergence of these newly-designed surgical procedures and imaging instruments as well as regenerative medicine techniques has spurred the development of numerous medical treatment technologies, further changing the doctors’ approaches to clinical diagnosis and the treatment of patients.
Prof. Po-Nien Tsao then discussed “Development and Regeneration in the Respiratory System.” During his talk, Prof. Tsao noted that while the most important function of the lungs is to perform the exchange of gasses, due to a lack of the appropriate research tools, scientists have yet to achieve a full understanding of the role played by the gas exchange function of the lungs’ epithelial cells, especially the type I alveolar cells. Therefore, researchers at NTU Hospital used gene knockout technology to explore the role played by Notch signaling in the growth of the pulmonary alveoli. Intrigued by their findings, the researchers formed an interdisciplinary team with Director Shan-Hui Hsu of the Institute of Polymer Science and Engineering that used 3D printing to manufacture an artificial trachea with an epithelium that can help patients in need of a trachea replacement.
Last to speak was Prof. Wen-Shiang Chen who introduced the concept of “Therapeutic Ultrasound.” He pointed out that the ultrasound with which most people are familiar is diagnostic ultrasound, which relies on ultrasound’s imaging capabilities. Examples of this technology include obstetric ultrasonography, which is used to track fetal growth, and echocardiography, which is used to diagnose heart diseases. However, Prof. Chen noted that ultrasound’s applications are not limited to the diagnostic. The biothermal and biomechanical effects produced by high-energy ultrasound can induce changes within cells and tissue. By taking advantage of these microscopic changes, modern therapeutic ultrasound can be used for such purposes as tumor ablation, drug delivery, transgenesis, and opening the blood-brain barrier.
During the post-meeting banquet, Political Deputy Minister Liang-Gee Chen of the Ministry of Education, who served as NTU’s executive vice president for academics and research until his MOE appointment, called on the members of the NTU faculty to think from the broad perspective of nation and society and to devote their research efforts to making contributions to NTU and Taiwan.