Materialism: A Materials Science Podcast
An exploration of the past, present, and future of materials science and engineering.
2 years ago

Episode 6: Hemodialysis and the Birth of Artificial Organs

In Nazi occupied Netherlands an incredible breakthrough occurred

In this episode we talk about the birth of artificial organs as we describe the history of hemodialysis which is critical for treating chronic kidney disease. We introduce materials science fundamentals associated with mass transport across semi-permeable membranes such as Ficks First Law. We then tell the story of Willem Kolff and others who pioneered the invention of hemodialysis and describe the role that materials played in that process then as well as now.

To learn even more about the stuff we talked about, check out some of the references we pulled from when making this episode: Overview on membranes and Bowry, S. K. "Dialysis membranes today." The International journal of artificial organs 25.5 (2002): 447-460. Mortality vs BMI: Kalantar-Zadeh, Kamyar, et al. "Reverse epidemiology of cardiovascular risk factors in maintenance dialysis patients." Kidney international 63.3 (2003): 793-808. Impact of protein energy wasting: Bonanni et al. 2011 Int J Environ Res Public Health. 8(5), 1631–1654. Carrero et al. 2013 J Ren Nutr. 23(2),77-90 Protein loss vs flux of treatment: Gil et al. 2007 J Korean Med Sci. 22(4), 598-603. Protein intake after treatment vs survival: Lowrie et al. 1981 New Eng J of Med 305.20, 1176-1181. Altering fluid transport to retain proteins: Meyer et al. 2004 Am. Soc. Neph. 15 (7), 1927-1935 Personal account of doctor turned patient: Laird et al. 2011 Am J Kidney Dis. 2011 Sep;58(3):xxvi-xxviii. Protein replacement treatment effectiveness: Hynote et al. 1995 J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 19(1), 15-21. Ruffino et al. 1998 Nephrol. Dial. Transplant. 13 (suppl 3): 65-67. Membrane adsorption of proteins: Ishikawa et al. 2006 Am J Nephrol. 26, 372–380 Current PVC tubing used in dialyzers: Chawla et al. 1991 Biomater Artif Cells Immobilization Biotechnol. 19(4), 761-83. Image taken from's_Artificial_Kidney.jpg with filters applied in Adobe Illustrator. If you have questions or feedback please send us emails at [email protected] Make sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, google play or wherever you find your podcasts. If you like the show and want to help us reach more people, consider leaving review - it helps us improve and it exposes new people to the show. Finally, check out our Instagram page @materialism.podcast and connect with us to let us know what new material you’d like to hear about next. We’d like to give a shoutout to AlphaBot for allowing us to use his music within the podcast. Check him out on Spotify. And as always a special thanks to Kolobyte who created the intro and outro for our podcast. He makes a ton of really cool synthwave music which you can check out at

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