Looking back over the years that this project has existed in one form or
another, I am awed and humbled by the generosity and support—intellec-
tual, personal, and financial—that I have received from informants, men-
tors, peers, colleagues, and institutions. It is a reminder that academic work
is at its best and most rewarding when it is done within the context of a
community. We spend days, months, years even, alone in front of our
computers, but we forget at our peril all the people who made those days
and years of writing possible. Many academic communities have contrib-
uted to this book, and I count myself fortunate indeed to have worked with
such extraordinary people. Any mistakes or omissions here are mine.
‘‘These people you’re writing about must be geniuses,’’ a friend of mine
said after reading an early chapter of this book. I had not put it in so many
words, but openness to exploring and implementing new ideas gave the
people I worked with in the field insights and achievements that one could
easily call genius. The first and deepest debt of gratitude I owe is to the
people whom I worked with in four academic medical centers in North
America. In particular, the doctors, engineers, educators, and others I
worked with in the medical school that I call Coastal University provided
me with an intellectual home and an extraordinary education in matters
medical and technological. Their generosity, openness, support, and good
cheer were literally life changing. They accepted me as a colleague and, over
time, as a friend. Every page of this book either directly or indirectly reveals
their influence. The group’s director gave me a home in the laboratory and
showed me engineering at its broad-ranging best. The surgeons in the
group taught me a tremendous amount about medicine and, as important,
taught me how deeply caring physicians can be. If there is nuance in my
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