The Scientific Instruments Division of the University of Washington will celebrate 50 years of achievement with an anniversary celebration and open house from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, April 29, in the lobby of the UW Health Sciences Center, 1959 N.E. Pacific. The public is welcome to attend.
Among the division’s outstanding accomplishments are the design and construction of the kidney dialysis machine, developed in conjuction with the UW’s Dr. Belding H. Scribner, and design and construction of bone marrow transplant equipment, developed in conjunction with transplant pioneer Dr. E. Donnall Thomas of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
The open house will include displays of instruments, including an early artificial kidney. A timeline will show accomplishments of the division over the years.
The division was created in 1949 as the Medical Instrument Facility. Its machine shop was instrumental in developing or improving a number of scientific instruments in wide use around the world, including the heart-lung machine, aortic heart valves, the artificial kidney, and bone marrow transplant equipment. In 1952, the division, working with UW physician Dr. Robert Bruce, developed the first treadmill for humans, allowing the patient to run in place while heart function is evaluated under exercise conditions.
Electronic services were added in 1961, to enhance the division’s developmental capabilities and to repair electronics-based equipment, which was proliferating both in research labs and in clinical use. Optical services were added in 1972, to assist in the maintenance of microscopes, including complex multi-headed and surgical scopes. In 1999, the instrumentation and methods being developed often focus on the cellular and the molecular level.
“We take ideas and turn them into instrumentation,” said manager Liz Mulligan, who has been with the division for 29 years. “This is where solutions to technical problems are devised.”
1949 Division begins as Medical Instruments Facility
1952 Treadmills developed for patient use
1955 Artificial heart valve development begins
1956 Open heart surgery with prototype heart-lung machine
1958 Development of artificial kidney begins
1960 Cannulae developed to make ongoing hemodialysis possible
1961 Electronics service starts
1962 Ultrasound development begins
1963 Glassblowing facility opened
1964 Bone marrow transplant equipment developed
1967 Protein sequenator built
1968 Peritoneal dialysis machine and cannulae developed
1969 Preventive maintenance on patient care equipment begins
1970 “Mechanical Mom” rocking incubator developed
1972 Optical services added
1976 Bone marrow transplant equipment registered with the FDA
1977 Name changed to Scientific Instruments Division
1984 Computerized peritoneal dialysis machine designed and built
1990 Bone marrow transplant equipment donated to Soviet Union for Chernobyl victims
1993 Computer-controlled milling machine installed
1995 New shop completed for machine and optical units
1999 50 years of service