A Lifetime of Biomaterials Engineering Achievement
In 1969, Professor Ioannis V. Yannas was an expert on fibers and polymers at MIT when Dr. John F. Burke approached him with a request for help. A surgeon, Burke had made significant strides in burn treatment but was still missing a piece of the puzzle.
“He wanted something to keep the bacteria out,” said Yannas, “and keep the moisture in.”
Human skin and pig skin, which were often used in burn treatments, were commonly rejected by the body’s immune system, and the immune suppressants given to patients left them vulnerable to infection. The other obstacle was dehydration. No one had yet found a way of building skin that could absorb and maintain moisture.
With a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Harvard College, a master’s degree in chemical engineering from MIT, a second master’s degree in physical chemistry from Princeton University, and a PhD in physical chemistry from Princeton, Yannas was a good choice to help Burke with his mission.