Boris Gramatikov

The Central Laboratory for Electromedical Instrumentation (CLEMA) was known also as the Department of Biomedical Engineering, at the Medical Academy, Sofia, Bulgaria. The Medical Academy comprised of the Medical School, School of Public Health and the University Hospital, which are the largest and the leading institutions of their kind in Bulgaria. Recently it was reorganized and renamed to the Medical University of Sofia. It includes: four faculties (Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing), Preclinical University Center, Central Medical Library, a College of training of specialists with special medical education, etc. Eleven university hospitals comprise the University's clinical base. The University hospitals at the Medical University are the most cerebrated ones, with the most skilled medical staff and national health establishments having the most modern equipment. The teaching staff in the University hospitals range from 18 to 30 % of the total number of employees.

CLEMA was headed by Professor Eng. Ivan Daskalov, PhD, D.Sc. Med - a world-famous scientist in Biomedical Engineering, known for his research erudition and technical talent. He served on several medical panels and boards. The Department was an inherent part of the Medical Academy and was located on its territory, among its numerous clinics. Within a radius of half a mile (walking distance) are Bulgaria's Principal Military Hospital, The Institute of Hygiene and Occupational Health, and the National Institute of Emergency Medicine (Pirogov). CLEMA maintained strong relationship with Sofia's Third City Hospital which specialized exclusively in Cardiology and hosted the National Cardiological Center. All this enabled close contacts and collaboration with medical doctors, clinical engineers, medical physicists and other medical personnel. CLEMA had a complete electronic and mechanical workshop, and had full access to all technical resources of the Academy.

Since 1984 CLEMA became additionally affiliated with EMA Engineering - a state-owned company for biomedical instrumentation. Besides medical research and R&D (including medical informatics, statistics, signal processing, development of new devices etc), after 1985 CLEMA conducted applied research, served as the major design center for diagnostic medical instrumentation in the country, and was involved in a number of development projects for EMA Engineering. It also had certain supervisory function over device production. In addition, feedback from the end-users in numerous hospitals, and from related clinical research, flowed back to CLEMA. The devices developed, typically diagnostic equipment using contemporary electronic components, were produced in large (for the country) volumes and were a substitute for far more expensive import technology, at a very reasonable quality.

Later, around 1991-92, after the fall of Communism, EMA Engineering was no longer able to withstand competition in a free market open economy. CLEMA, on the other hand, lost a lot of its best researchers and engineers - some of them founded their own firms, others moved to trade, while many others found more exciting and promising jobs abroad in Europe and overseas in the USA, Canada and Japan. In 1994 what remained of CLEMA's personnel moved to the Center of Biomedical Engineering at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (CLBME) and Professor Daskalov was elected its Director. The focus of the Biomedical Engineering group has shifted to mainly research topics and contractual R&D. The main projects are still in the cardiological area.