Wednesday, November 14, 2007

'Pumps & Pipes' lets heart doctors brainstorm with petroleum experts

[13 November 2007 - Houston Chronicle] Conference shows blood and oil can mix -- in Houston ... It's not surprising that heart doctors and petroleum engineers have professional conferences. But it is rather unusual to find them sitting through PowerPoint presentations in the same meeting room. Yet that's just what happened Monday when leading heart surgeons and cardiologists from the Texas Medical Center convened with oil and gas researchers from some of Houston's top energy firms. Such a pairing might seem odd, but it turns out that two of Houston's biggest industries have a lot in common. Both heart docs and oil execs want to push liquids — be it blood or oil — through long, narrow tubes, without blockages or corrosion, for extended periods of time. Both also want to closely monitor these tubes, and want to be able to fix problems when they arise. Would it be possible, then, for doctors and engineers to learn from one another? That's what Dr. Alan Lumsden, a professor of surgery at the Methodist DeBakey Heart Center, pondered 18 months ago when he dreamed up the idea of the "Pumps & Pipes" conference. ... "We put a high premium on thinking outside of the box," said Bill Kline, research manager for Exxon's Upstream Research Company. "The highest value thing we can have here is a new idea. What we really hope with this conference is to spark dialogue and creativity and fresh approaches to our problems." So on Monday, Houston Mayor Bill White found himself addressing a conference room at the University of Houston filled with 130 heart doctors, oil and gas engineers and UH research scientists. More

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