European Conference on Biomaterials 2009—strong AO presence

The 22nd annual conference, ESB2009, took place at the Beaulieu Convention Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland from September 7th to 11th 2009.

03 November 2009

The 22nd annual European Conference on Biomaterials (ESB2009) took place at the Beaulieu Convention Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland from September 7th to 11th 2009.

The congress was organised on behalf of the Swiss Society for Biomaterials (SSB) by SSB president and AO Research Institute Davos (ARI) Director, Geoff Richards along with Marc Bohner of RMS Foundation and Christine Wandrey of EPF Lausanne. The AO had a strong presence at the congress, consisting of an exhibit by Global Clinical Trial Management (GCTM), sponsorship and organisation of the “theme of the day” for the Infection day as well as organising a scientific session dedicated to the memory of BertonRahn, formerly of AO Research Institute Davos.

Exhibition Space

The AO Foundation exhibition space featured Global Clinical Trials Management (GCTM) AG PreClinical Division and the AO Research Institute Davos RISystem, with the intention of raising awareness among the ESB community about some services offered by the AO Foundation. The successful outcome of the conference was the establishment of several new contacts and quotations requested of both groups.

GCTM PreClinical Division focused on presenting the preclinical services offered on a contract basis with collaborators from both universities and industry. The range of services offered by GCTM PreClinical Division include experimental surgeries on a range of animals from rodents to sheep, mechanical testing, histological services and medical imaging which includes in vivo radiology and computed tomography.

RISystem presented their newest Research Implant System’s for use in studies of bone reaction in combination with genetics, drugs and biomaterials in rodents. The portfolio of implantation devices includes both internal and external fixation kits. The internal fixation possibilities are internal locked plates and locking nails for use in mice and rats. External fixation possibilities are fixators which can be customised for stiffness and distraction.


Prior to the conference opening ceremony, Invibio hosted a workshop chaired by Alexandra Poulsson from the AO Research Institute Davos Implant Bioperformance Program and Marcus Jarman-Smith, Technology Leader at Invibio Biomaterials Solutions, UK. The workshop brought together the most recent work in the field of surface modification of PEEK in Europe. Jarman-Smith opened the workshop with a brief introduction to the current medical uses of PEEK and Invibio’s new areas of research including bearing surfaces for total knee replacementsand the acetabulum for total hip replacements. Other talks covered surface modification of PEEK by oxygen plasma treatment to improve osteoblast adhesion by Poulsson while Gianluca Zappini from Eurocoatings, Italy talked about the coating of carbon-fibre reinforced PEEK implants with titanium or hydroxyapatite by plasma spray processes to improve osseointegration. Fintan Moriarty from AO Research Institute Davos spoke about in vivo infection studies with titanium alloys and the influence of topography and chemistry on bacterial adhesion.Finally Annette Brunsen (Max-Planck-Institut fuer Polymerforschung, Germany) described a wet-chemical method combined with plasma treatment to attach polymer brushes to PEEK for a wide range of applications including non-fouling surfaces. The workshop was well attended and post talk discussions were very fruitful for all involved. 

Midway through the five day conference the ESB organising committee dedicated a session to the late Berton Rahn. Professor Rahn was an integral member of AO Research Institute Davos for over 35 years and is best known for his fundamental research relating to bone histology and specifically the introduction of the flourochrome marker system for evaluating bone remodelling. In the first keynote lecture of the session Geoff Richards spoke of the major contribution made by Rahn in the field of histological processing of implants in musculoskeletal trauma research. This was followed by a talk on his contribution to histological processing of implants in Musculoskeletal Trauma which was presented by Stefan Milz, Rahn’s successor as head of Histology at AO Research Institute Davos Research.

Themes of the day: Industrial, Spine and Infection

Industrial and Spine

The clinical keynote for the industrial day was given by AO Trustee Rainer Schmelzeisen (Klinikum Albert Ludwig, Freiburg University, Germany). Schmelzeisen gave the first clinical lecture of the conference which was very well received. From his background in CMF surgery he described the importance of linking the cells, their environment and the factors which can be used to promote healing, and emphasized where there is room for improvement.

AO Trustee Paul Heini (Inselspital, University of Berne, Switzerland) gave an overview of current issues in spine surgery and a wish list of what spine surgeons would like from the biomaterial scientist—the intention being to help bring scientist and surgeons closer together. The second keynote in the Spine session was given by one our close collaborators Marc Bohner (Robert Mathys Institute, Switzerland) from the perspective of a biomaterials engineer on how bone substitutes can be used in the spine. Bohnerbrought the practical issues of the current biomaterials to the fore discussing how the materials such as calcium phosphates and hydroxyapatite react in a biological environment. 


The AO sponsored the theme of the day on infection on Friday during the congress. The infection session began with a plenary presentation by Pierre Hoffmeyer (Hôpital Cantonal Universitaire, Geneva, Switzerland) who presented the clinical perspective of orthopedic device related infection and presented his “wishlist” for scientific advances to combat orthopedic infections. This presentation was followed by a presentation by David Grainger (University of Utah, US), who presented a basic scientists perspectiveon infection and biomaterials research. Later in the day, the audience heard keynote lectures from Henk Busscher (University Medical Centre Groningen, Netherlands) on Orthopedics in Developing Countries; Martin Clauss (Kantonsspital Liestal, Liestal, Switzerland) on the Diagnosis and treatment of implant-associated infections; Sebastian Zaat (Amsterdam Medical Cente, Netherlands)  on Infected Tissue Surrounding Biomaterials ; Kent Bachus (University of Utah, US)on Preventing Infection of Percutaneous OsseointegratedImplant for Amputees and also Geoff Richards who presented on the clinical problem of fracture fixation implant removal: Effect of surface modification.

Overall, ESB2009 strengthened the scientific basis of the traditional ESB core topics as well as increasing interaction between the clinical, industrial and basic science aspects of biomaterials research. In total, 1044 abstracts were submitted for presentation and 1201 attendees participated at ESB2009. The conference was an outstanding success and all involved are looking forward to attending ESB2010 in Tampere Finland.

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