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Robert Burrell

By using the ancient application of silver as an anti-microbial, Fort Saskatchewan researcher Dr. Robert Burrell developed what is believed to be the first commercial application of nanotechnology—the "science of small."

Through privately owned Westaim Biomedical of Fort Saskatchewan and the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Oral Health Science, Dr. Burrell developed the silver particle-infused Acticoat bandage. This wound care product saw a high-profile use in treating burn victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and in Bali, Indonesia.

Dr. Burrell began his research in 1991 after considering the historical use of pure silver as an anti-microbial. The silver particles used in his wound dressings are microscopic (as small as 20 atoms in size), speed healing, and prevent scarring.

In an early development, the dressing was used to treat a woman suffering from the rare and potentially fatal skin disease, toxic epidermal necrolysis, in which an auto-immune reaction caused the entire outermost layer of her skin to slough off, her body left an open wound.

To her doctors, who were concerned over the cost of using Acticoat compared to conventional dressings Burrell explained that it could be left on for longer than a conventional treatment. So they went ahead and did it—they wrapped her from head to toe—and this patient, who they were concerned about surviving, in fact left the hospital eight days later almost totally healed. She was 95 percent healed.

In 2003, Dr. Burrell became one of five federally funded scientists at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Engineering. He now holds the position of Canada Research Chair in Nanostructured Biomaterials. And in 2004, he was nominated for the 2004 Alberta Science and Technology Foundation (ASTech) awards.

Alberta Innovation Video 2002: An Innovative Band-Aid

The Heritage Community Foundation is pleased to present this feature video segment from the Alberta Innovation 2004 documentary courtesy of Alberta Innovation and Science

Dr. Robert Burrell developed what is believed to be the world’s first commercial medical application of nanotechnology – a bandage that has revolutionized wound care and saved the lives and limbs of patients around the world. Watch

Nanotechnology Revolution

The Heritage Community Foundation is pleased to present this feature article, courtesy of Alberta Ingenuity.

Dr. Burrell’s work applies nanotechnology, the science of arranging atoms and molecules to create tiny machines and new materials. Alberta has become a centre for nanotechnology research through the National Institute for Nanotechnology at the University of Alberta. To find out more about some research projects emerging from this centre of science, click below to link to the Alberta Ingenuity website. Read

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