About Clark Colton
Colton received his bachelor’s from Cornell in chemical engineering (CE) and his PhD from MIT in CE in 1969. Inspired by Ed Merrill, his research focused on biomedical applications of CE. His thesis was hemodialysis (within the field of mass transfer), involving diffusion in blood, diffusion through dialysis membranes, convective transport, and analysis of performance. He then became a professor at MIT (where he has remained). He first had a wide variety of research interests—hemofiltration, oxygen transport in blood, research into diabetes (acting as a consultant on attempts to develop a glucose sensor and a hybrid artificial pancreas), enzyme engineering, and atherosclerosis (particularly transport of lipoproteins across synthetic survey), which last area got him into animal experiments, therefore biology, pathology, histology, and anatomy. In the process his lab got very large and he drifted more into scientific administration; but from the late 1970s he returned to more hands-on research, with a smaller lab and fewer research interests. More lately he has looked into the physical chemistry of antibody antigen interactions to form immune complexes, and particularly into different sorts of research into diabetes and artificial organs—e.g., research into oxygen consumption and uptake, using NMR to study islet properties in vitro. Colton finishes by discussing the way biomedical engineering is taught at MIT and nationwide, preferring an early emphasis on core engineering disciplines, but only later study of biomedical engineering, as a way to tie together different aspects of core engineering knowledge.
About the Interview
CLARK COLTON: An Interview Conducted by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, 20 February 2001
Interview #412 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Clark Colton, an oral history conducted in 2001 by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.
Interview: Dr. Clark Colton
Interviewer: Michael Geselowitz
Date: 20 February 2001
Place: Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT