Society & Partner Zone Issue 8, Interviews

In the Spotlight: International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering (IFMBE)

The IFMBE began publishing its journal “Medical and Biological Engineering & Computing” with Springer in 1996. Society Zone talks to Dr. Herbert F. Voigt, Ph.D., President-Elect and Chair of the Federation Journal Committee, IFMBE

Dr. Herbert F. Voigt, Ph.D., is currently President-Elect of the International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering (IFMBE) and will assume that group’s presidency at the next World Congress in Munich, Germany, in September 2009. He will serve a three-year term – culminating as he presides over the General Assembly at the World Congress of 2012 in Beijing, China.

Professor Voigt, a professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University, served as the President of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) for the 2006-2007 term.

Professor Voigt was President of Alpha Eta Mu Beta, the National Honor Society for the biomedical engineering profession for 8 years ending in 2008, and is a past-president of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). Dr. Voigt is widely recognized for his role in obtaining a million dollar Whitaker Foundation grant for the BMES. He received the BMES’s President’s Award in 2003 and the Distinguished Service Award in 2004.

Dr. Voigt is interested in the neural circuitry of the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN). Using a variety of techniques including cross correlation analysis of simultaneously recorded pairs of DCN units, intra-cellular recording and marking neurons in vivo, and computational modeling, he and his colleagues have provided a better understanding of this complex auditory nucleus.

IFMBE, the International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering, publishes the journal, Medical and Biological Engineering & Computing (MBEC), the book series Series in Biomedical Engineering and various news volumes and proceedings with Springer.

Society Zone in an interview with...

Society Zone talks to Dr. Herbert F. Voigt, Ph.D., President-Elect and Chair of the Federation Journal Committee, IFMBE.

Professor Voigt, could you tell us a little about the history and vision of IFMBE?

2009 represents the 50th anniversary of the origin of the IFMBE. When in 1959, the International Federation for Medical Electronics and Biological Engineering was created in Paris France, there were few National Societies dedicated to medical and biological engineering. In the mid-1960s, the name was shortened to its current form.

Later, as national societies were formed, these societies became affiliates of the Federation, which now lists 58 affiliates.

The original objectives of the society – to encourage research and the application of knowledge, and to disseminate information and promote collaboration within the field of medical, clinical and biological engineering – have not really changed. We are actively supporting regional conferences and for the 1st time in 2006, there was a workshop on progress women in Medical and Biological Engineering have been making. We work, typically, through the Administrative Council, Divisions, Committees and Working Groups. Four groups that I am particularly interested in seeing progress are 1) a new working group focused on Genetically Modified Foods, 2) a reactivated Bioethics group, 3) A Global Health Working group that can address the need to connect the various silos of information and infrastructure available but currently isolated, and 4) continued success of the Committee on Women in MBE.

I am also impressed with the Asian-Pacific activities working group that has a very nice program to allow young medical and biological engineers to visit each other’s labs as a group and then attend the World Congress. I would like to see that effort translated to other parts of the world.

Finally, I believe it is extremely important to continue the working relationship IFMBE has established through the efforts of our Past-President, Professor Nagel, with the World Health Organization of the United Nations.

IFMBE began publishing the journal with Springer in 2006. What was it that the Society was primarily looking for in a publisher?

I very much appreciate the fact that Springer is very supportive of our regional conferences and World Congresses. It is great to receive CDs of the proceedings. I am currently working with Professors Paul Fagette and Ratko Magjarevic on an IFMBE 50th Anniversary Book to be published by Springer and available at the World Congress in September. Although we are on a tight schedule, Springer has been very helpful providing guidelines and a time-table.

Although, I was not involved with the IFMBE in any real way when the decision to publish MBEC with Springer was made in 2006, I know that the IFMBE was looking for a responsive, professional, high-quality publisher. Since then, as Chairman of the IFMBE’s Federation Journal Committee (FJC), which oversees the Editor-in-Chief’s operations, I have come to appreciate the close relationship that is required between the Editor-in-Chief and the Journal’s publisher, Springer, in order for the Journal to be successful. One of my first tasks was to arrive at a suitable contract between our Editor-in-Chief and the IFMBE. This was achieved. Then we needed to agree to a Page-Charge Policy. Although it took some time, this too, was achieved.

What is the Society’s day-to-day relationship with Springer like?

I cannot speak for the MBEC Editor’s Office, which I believe works on a nearly daily basis with Springer to get accepted manuscripts published in a timely fashion. I do know that there is a very short interval between paper acceptance and paper appearance on line or in the Journal. Other Journals in the field have had paper-appearance delays of up to two years. That is not acceptable.

As for myself, last summer I submitted an Editorial to MBEC that was to accompany the printing of the recently adopted “Bill of Rights for Scientists and Engineers.” I was amazed to see the quick and thoughtful review that helped to strengthen the Editorial and then the rapid appearance in MBEC. In my experience, the response time was exceptional.

What are the trends in the area, and what are your future plans for the journal and the book series?

The FJC deals primarily with MBEC policy issues and not editorial issues. I believe, and this is a view shared by the current MBEC Editor-in-Chief, Professor Jos Spann, that issues devoted to reviews of specific areas of Medical and Biological Engineering will be very important to the Journal. I could see whole of parts of issues devoted specifically to genetically modified foods, to ethics related to biotechnology, to prosthetic neural devices, to synthetic biology, and to world health care delivery.

Society Zone thanks Professor Voigt for this interview.

About the Society: IFMBE

IFMBE, the International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering, is primarily a federation of national and transnational organizations. These organizations represent national interests in medical and biological engineering. The objectives of the IFMBE are scientific, technological, literary, and educational. Within the field of medical, biological and clinical engineering IFMBE's aims are to encourage research and the application of knowledge, and to disseminate information and promote collaboration.

Check out the IFMBE website (dead_link

Check out the IFMBE portal on (int_link

About the Journal: Medical and Biological Engineering & Computing

Founded in 1963, Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing (MBEC) continues to serve the biomedical engineering community, covering the entire spectrum of biomedical and clinical engineering.

Medical and Biological Engineering & Computing (int_link

About the Book Series: Series in Biomedical Engineering

This series describes the applications of physical science, engineering and mathematics in medicine and biology, written for graduate students and researchers in many disciplines including medical physics, biomedical engineering, radiology, radiotherapy and clinical research.

Springer also publishes “IFMBE News” and “IFMBE Proceedings” on behalf of IFMBE.

Series in Biomedical Engineering (int_link