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Opening Address

Jaakko Malmivuo

Ragnar Granit Institute
Tampere University of Technology
P.O. Box 692, FIN-33101 Tampere, Finland

Table of Contents

  1. History
  2. Baltic Sea
  3. Nordic Societies and Conferences
  4. Size of this Conference
  5. Satellite Symposia and Tutorial Courses
  6. Conference on Bioelectromagnetism
  7. Discipline of Bioelectromagnetism
  8. Ragnar Granit
  9. Biomedical Engineering in Finland
  10. City of Tampere


  2. The Mediterranean Sea has been the womb of the development of Western civilization. Though the development of our culture has been a complicated process including influences eg. from Mesopotamia and Egypt, many historians emphasize that the development of European culture for a great deal took place on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea in the palace of Knossos.


    The first palace was built there some 4000 years ago. Since that several other palaces were built in the same location and in other parts of the island.

    Europe and Zeus

    It was to this island where the Greek God Zeus took the beautiful princess Europa. Zeus had taken the form of white bull, he approached Europa when she was picking flowers with her friends. Europa sat on the back of Zeus who took her to Crete and married her. From the princess Europa the whole continent Europe got its name.
    Why is Knossos so central in the development of Western culture. The reason is evidently that it is in the center of the Mediterranean Sea. The sea gave the possibility for travelling and connecting people and thus the possibility for making trade and for exchanging cultural influences. The trade increased the standard of living and did help in developing the culture which received important influences from different nations.

  4. Why do I start the opening address of a Nordic-Baltic Conference from the Mediterranean Sea and from the island of Crete? The reason is, that in the same way the Baltic Sea has been the womb of the development of the economic welfare and civilization of the Nordic and the Baltic States around it.

    Baltic Sea and Granite Cliffs

    Trade boat

    Viking Age, Hanseatic Epoch

    Around the Baltic Sea there has been a rich cultural development since the withdrawal of the ice bed which covered these areas some 10.000 years ago. The Vikings made long journeys making trade with people far into the present Russia in the Novgorod area and they actually governed those regions for a while. It is also known that the Vikings were the first Europeans who made the journey to America.
    The strong economic development period of the Baltic Sea region took place from the beginning of our millennium. This was based on trade made mainly through transporting merchandise along the sea. This time was called the Hanseatic Epoch.

    Cold War, Revolution

    In the beginning of this century the contacts between the Nordic Countries and Russia were suddenly discontinued for political reasons. A little later the connections to the Baltic States were also discontinued. During that time the co-operation between the Nordic Countries was active, but scientific contacts to the Baltic States did not in practice exist.

    Now - Future

    Now we live a new era. The Baltic States are with us again. And I claim, that from this time on, there is no real Nordic co-operation without the Baltic States. All we who live around the Baltic Sea have similarities in history, society, economic and cultural life. We should work jointly. Then we form a strong unit in the international community.

  6. Nordic Societies and Conferences

    In the Nordic Countries the first national society for medical physics and biomedical engineering was established in Sweden in 1956. That was followed by the societies in Norway and Poland in 1967, in Finland in 1968, in Germany in 1971 and in Denmark in 1972.
    From the initiative of Professor Erik Spring there was started a series of Nordic Meetings of Medical and Biological Engineering. The first one of these was organized in Finland in Espoo, close to Helsinki, in 1970.
    From then on these conferences were organized in the Nordic Countries as follows: Oslo, Norway, 1971; Tampere, Finland, 1975; Lyngby, Denmark, 1977; Linköping, Sweden, 1981; Aberdeen, Scotland, 1984; Trondheim, Norway, 1987; Ålborg, Denmark, 1990; and Lund, Sweden, 1993.
    This slide was taken from the First Nordic Meeting in Espoo in 1970. You may see Professor Ragnar Granit, the inaugural speaker of the conference, on the right.
    In this connection we have to remember that in 1985 it was organized in Finland the World Conference on Medical Engineering and Medical Physics.
    After the Lund conference it was Finland's turn to organize the next Nordic conference. For some time there has been a discussion on whether it is necessary to have a series of Nordic conferences because there already exist so many different series of conferences in the field of biomedical engineering in the world.
    About at the time of the Lund conference the political situation has changed around the Baltic Sea. In Estonia a national society was established in 1994 and thereafter in Latvia and Lithuania in 1995. In Iceland there was also established a national society in 1994.
    Thus now when this 10th Nordic conference is held, there exist four new national societies in the Nordic-Baltic region. Therefore the Ragnar Granit institute wanted to apply to the Finnish Society for Medical Physics and Medical Engineering for the rights to organize this conference under the name "10th Nordic-Baltic Conference on Biomedical Engineering". In this completely new situation I see that there is no doubt that the tradition of Nordic conferences on Biomedical Engineering is perhaps stronger than ever before! But now it is under the name Nordic-Baltic. The concept Nordic-Baltic has returned to its original meaning. This is why we selected the famous map of Olaus Magnus and A. Lafrieri of the Nordic-Baltic region to symbolize the conference in all its publicity material.

  8. This conference is the largest of the Nordic conferences on biomedical engineering. The total number of papers is about 350. The conference also includes 13 high-quality State-of-the-Art lectures given by famous scientists from all around the world, one of them being Nobel Laureate Ivar Giaever. The papers come, of course, from all Nordic and Baltic countries, from Western, Central and Eastern Europe, USA, South America, Near and Far East and Australia. Altogether some 36 countries are represented within the scientific papers and other active participants. The number of active participants is about 400 plus their accompanying members.
    One may ask is this a Nordic-Baltic Conference if one half of the papers come outside this region? Isn't it rather a World Conference? My answer is, that this is a Nordic-Baltic conference where the scientists in the Nordic-Baltic region have an excellent opportunity not only to communicate between each other but also to communicate with colleagues around the world.
    The Organizing Committee is very glad to see that the participation from the Baltic States, Poland, Russia, Belorus and Ukraine is so active. We have been willing to encourage participants from these countries to come to Tampere by awarding them a grant which has covered almost one half of the registration fee. The number of these grants was altogether about 60. Some 25 of these were made possible by a generous donation from the President of the IFMBE, Professor Fumihiko Kajiya. The rest of them were given by the Ragnar Granit Foundation. The Organizing Committee gives its warmest thanks to Professor Fumihiko Kajiya!

  10. We wanted to extend the perspectives of this conference both with satellite symposia and tutorial courses. Organizing a preconference satellite symposium in Lapland by Oulu University gave the opportunity for the participants of that symposium to extend their experience in technology transfer between research institutes and industry.
    I guess having a scientific symposium in the midnight sun must have been an unforgettable experience which cannot be offered by many other countries than Finland.


    The scientific program of this conference continues immediately on Thursday in Tallinn, Estonia in a postconference satellite symposium. The high-quality scientific program in that symposium combined with unique atmosphere of an old Hanseatic city should give a valuable conclusion to this series of scientific events of the Nordic-Baltic conference.
    We have also wanted to serve the young participants of this conference with four preconference tutorial courses. Having several internationally recognized experts participating in our conference has given a unique opportunity for organizing these tutorial courses whose topics represent various important aspects of biomedical engineering and bioelectromagnetism.

  12. This conference is a joint conference of the 10th Nordic-Baltic Conference on Biomedical Engineering and the 1st International Conference on Bioelectromagnetism. The Scientific Committee of the conference made the decision on this organization on the following basis:
    The bioelectric phenomena are a vital part of living organisms processing and transferring important information within the body organs, as well as between the body and the environment, and in controlling the contraction of the muscles.
    In the congresses of biomedical engineering there has been a great number of scientific papers on bioelectricity and biomagnetism. To emphasize the importance of these phenomena, and especially that they are complementary techniques and should be discussed jointly, it was decided to start a new series of international conferences on bioelectromagnetism.

  14. Discipline of Bioelectromagnetism

    I will very briefly introduce you the discipline of bioelectromagnetism. It may be divided into three by three subdivisions in the following way:
    The electric activity of tissue produces an electric potential field which can be measured. Electric current in a volume conductor induces a magnetic field that can be measured around the volume conductor. Furthermore there may exist magnetic material in the body which generates a measurable magnetic field.
    Examples of this subdivision are for instance electrocardiography, i.e. recording the electric activity of the heart.
    Modelling the thorax with a computer model gives tools for developing new electrocardiographic leads. This gives a possibility to improve the diagnosis of cardiac diseases. This and the next example are representative research results made at the Ragnar Granit Institute.
    This figure illustrates the calculated distribution of electric activity of the brain. It is made on the basis of electric potentials recorded from the scalp. This kind of analysis gives much more accurate image on the function of the brain than the traditional electroencephalography, EEG, and gives more accurate basis for diagnosing brain diseases.
    The nerve and muscle tissue may be excited by feeding electric current to the body. This is called stimulation. Stimulating current may also be induced to the body by applying an alternating magnetic field to it. And finally, magnetic material in the body may be magnetized by applying magnetic field.
    Examples of this subdivision are electric and magnetic stimulation of the brain, as in this slide. Another important application is the cardiac pacemaker.
    The third set of subdivisions concerns measuring the intrinsic electric and magnetic properties of the tissue. Impedance cardiography, which is a nonivasive measurement of the mechanical activity of the heart, is a representative example of this third subdivision. Because of the principle of reciprocity, the same thorax model which I showed before may also be used for developing new methods to utilize the thorax impedance measurement in improving cardiac diagnosis.
    In the discipline on bioelectromagnetism, the very important feature is that all these nine subdivisions are strongly interconnected through two important laws which are: Maxwell equations and principle of reciprocity. This means that if the situation is known in one of these nine cases, the corresponding situation can be calculated in all other eight cases on the basis of the aforementioned laws. This fact makes the discipline very solid.

  16. Ragnar Granit

    This conference is organized by the Ragnar Granit Institute and the Ragnar Granit Foundation. This certainly should give a good reason to tell more about Ragnar Granit.
    Ragnar Granit was born at Riihim„ki close to Helsinki in 1900. He studied medicine at Helsinki University and completed his MD thesis in 1926 on the theory of color vision.
    In this work he recorded the bioelectric signals from frog retina with very small microelectrodes which he developed himself. Thus he was a pioneer on recording the bioelectric phenomena.
    Ragnar Granit visited the laboratory of Sir Charles Sherrington in Oxford in 1928. From 1929 to 1932 Granit worked at Pennsylvania University in Philadelphia and then he returned to Helsinki to continue his research. At Helsinki University he was appointed as Professor of Physiology in 1937.
    In 1941 Ragnar Granit was invited to Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and was appointed in 1945 as director of Neurophysiological Laboratory of the Medical Nobel Institute. Later he travelled much abroad serving for instance as visiting professor at the Rockefeller University in New York 1956-1966. He retired in 1967.
    In 1967, after his retirement, he received the Nobel Prize. But what is important for us is that he received that mainly from the works which he had done in Finland before moving to Sweden. Thus Ragnar Granit is a Finnish Nobel Prize winner in addition to F. E. Sillanp„„ who received the prize in literature in 1939 and A. I. Virtanen who received it in chemistry in 1945.
    Ragnar Granit died in 1991. In 1992 the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Tampere University of Technology was named as the Ragnar Granit Institute to honor the life-work of Professor Ragnar Granit. This was based on the permission of his family.

  18. Export and Import of BME

    Organizing a conference on biomedical engineering and having a worldwide participation in it is a great honor for Finland. We highly appreciate this opportunity because biomedical engineering is an important discipline in our country.
    Finland has a strong industry in this field. There exist about 150 companies having some 4300 employees. The total sales of these companies in 1995 was about 3.3 billion FIM. The strength of this industry is characterized by the figures that the volume of the export was 2.2 billion FIM and the import was roughly some 60% of that. There exist companies whose export is over 95% of their sales and is spread all over the world. The biomedical engineering industry in Finland is, of course, mainly located in those cities where a university hospital and university of technology or faculty of medical physics exist.
    As examples of the successful biomedical engineering industry in Finland I might show the patient monitoring equipments.
    Another example is the ortopantomograph device. It is used for getting an x-ray image of the teeth. It is an example of a device of whose production about 98% is exported worldwide.
    I will give another two examples of biomedical engineering products which are successfully produced at Tampere. One application of bioelectromagnetism is electric stimulation of the phrenic nerve of patients whose breathing muscles are paralyzed. This implantable stimulator was initially developed at the Ragnar Granit Institute and is now in industrial production at Tampere and sold worldwide.
    Another example of successful industrial application is surgical stents, screws and other devices made from bioabsorbable materials. When the screws, which are used for fixing bone fractures, are made from material which dilutes in the body, another surgical operation for removing the screws is not needed and a lot of money, and of course discomfort of the patient is saved.
    Biomedical engineering education and research has a long tradition in Finland. Tampere University of Technology is 30 years old. It has had biomedical engineering education and research in its program for the whole of its existence.
    Just recently the City of Tampere has decided to start a strong development program of biomedical engineering industry. The Ragnar Granit Institute will continue to do its best for the success of this program. We see that for instance this conference is an important link in the development of international contacts, in research, education and in industry.

  20. What makes it important for a congress participant to come to Tampere for an international congress? Tampere is an old industrial city of Finland. Its early development was based on textile, wood and pulp as well as heavy metal industry.
    The new industrial Tampere has a character of high technology which is strongly supported by the University of Technology. Biomedical Engineering is a new, but important field of this High-Tech activity.
    Tampere is unique in its geology and landscape. In Tampere you may find the world's oldest rocks being over 1.5 billion years old.
    From Tampere you may also find very young unique geological formations: When you walk on the Pyynikki Ridge separating the two lakes Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi you may experience the world's highest gravel ridge created by the ice age. You may find it a unique natural book of the geographical history of this region. You may also find that here in the far North the summer nights are light and it never gets dark.
    You may find interesting art museums and unique architectural landmarks. One masterpiece of those being the Cathedral where an organ concert is arranged for the conference participants.

    And especially to our Japanese colleagues I would like to remind that do not forget the Moomin Museum!

    Ladies and Gentlemen!
    When we are now in a worldwide conference of biomedical engineering, I cannot resist on informing you what is the most successful and most widely used Finnish achievement in the development of biomedical engineering.

    Old Finnish Sauna

    It is, of course, the Finnish Sauna.
    I do not think there is any other such biomedical engineering achievement which, in addition to promoting health and treating various diseases, having been for hundreds of years the local obstetric clinic of each home, still continues working well, bringing health and relaxation and good spirit. I hope that you all, our foreign guest, have the opportunity to experience this unique Finnish achievement of biomedical engineering!
    I hope that your visit to Tampere is successful, unforgettable and relaxing, both professionally and personally!

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