History of Michaels Lecture
The Alan S. Michaels Distinguished Lectureship in Medical and Biological Engineering was established in 1995 to stimulate the collaboration of the medical profession, life sciences industries, and chemical engineering researchers.
The most exciting and promising developments in medicine and the life sciences - those leading to improved therapies for the treatment or mitigation of intractable diseases, and strategies for prevention of debilitating or life-threatening genetic deficiencies - are largely emerging from discoveries in molecular biology and biochemistry, in concert with those in the sister-sciences of immunology, pharmacology, and genetics. These developments involve, in a very direct way, the basic tools that are the hallmark of the chemical engineer's profession: molecular thermodynamics, chemical reaction kinetics, homogeneous and the heterogeneous catalysis, fluid mechanics, and mass- and energy-transport processes. Few other engineering disciplines are as well qualified to deal with the microscopic and molecular phenomena affecting living systems.
The Michaels Legacy
Alan S. Michaels was a pioneer in the application of chemical engineering principles to bioengineering. His formal training was in chemical engineering from MIT (SB '44, MS '47 in Chemical Engineering Practice and ScD '48). Dr. Michaels joined the MIT faculty as an Assistant Professor and worked with Warren K. "Doc" Lewis and E.A. Hauser in colloid chemistry. In 1950, he left for one year in industry, returning to the faculty in 1951 as co-director of the Soil Stabilization Laboratory, a new collaborative effort between the Departments of Chemical and Civil Engineering. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1961. In 1962, Dr. Michaels founded Amicon Corporation, leaving MIT in 1966 to serve as its president.
Dr. Michaels' research interests at MIT were innovative and diverse, including colloid phenomena, soil mechanics, and polymer permeability and its dependence upon polymer structure. His effort pioneered the development of "permselective" polymeric membranes, which led to the current great interest in membrane separation processes in the chemical process industry.
Dr. Michaels' many honors and awards include election as a Founding Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. Moreover, he had several distinguished academic appointments as well as industrial/scientific advisor positions for the food, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries.