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June 2006 Issue

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New Surgical Innovation Center Expands 'Frontiers of Medicine'

By Amanda Harper
Published June 2006

On June 1, UC unveiled a new asset: a permanent home for its Center for Surgical Innovation (CSI), a state-of-the art teaching and research center dedicated to expanding the frontiers of medicine through research and innovative thinking.

Founded about three years ago, the CSI has already made significant progress. An interdisciplinary collaboration between the departments of surgery and biomedical engineering and leading government and industry partners, the center's mission is straightforward: to leverage regional assets and become a world leader in innovative approaches in medical practice and education.

In literal terms, the CSI is a 3,700-square-foot facility that includes an eight-bench teaching lab, equipped with advanced audiovisual and telecommunications technology, and a sterile operating room outfitted with complex medical equipment such as the da Vinci surgical robot. The CSI gives students and physicians real-time educational experiences—in the lab and through distance-learning seminars via the Internet and streaming video.

Conceptually the CSI represents something much larger-it's the nucleus for bringing health-care providers together with medical industry and government leaders to translate and efficiently move research from bench top to bedside.

One of a handful of its kind across the nation, the center focuses on activities to address unmet medical needs, such as developing minimally invasive robotic surgery and telesurgery techniques.

"No other place in the world has what we've assembled at UC," explains Jeffrey Matthews, MD, chairman of the surgery department. "Our goal is to become the leader in surgical innovation-in the hospital, in the classroom and in the marketplace-and we've assembled the technology and the internal team, as well as key industry and governmental relationships critical to doing just that.

"The CSI is about addressing tomorrow's challenges today," adds Dr. Matthews, "by taking medical discoveries and making them a reality that will improve patient care."

Scientific Breakthroughs

In 2005, Timothy Broderick, MD, associate professor of surgery and biomedical engineering, performed the nation's first telesurgery from Ohio to California using the da Vinci surgical robot.

And in conjunction with leading military, telecommunication and surgical experts affiliated with the U.S. Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), this month Dr. Broderick and a UC research team will conduct the first test of a prototype communications platform for mobile robotic telesurgery.

Government Alliances
With TATRC, the CSI helped establish the Advanced Center for Telemedicine and Surgical Innovation, a congressionally funded research effort focusing on telesurgery and remote surgical-care applications for the battlefield. The CSI is working with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation to create the Atrial Fibrillation Innovation Center, a $22.8 million research facility, funded by the state of Ohio, that focuses on minimally invasive and robotic procedures to treat atrial fibrillation.

Research Partnerships
And through strong partnerships with medical industry leaders, like Ethicon Endo-Surgery and Intuitive Surgical, and government and military institutions, including NASA, the CSI team will continue to play a key role in the development of long-distance medical applications, robotic surgery techniques and medical devices.

"Solutions to complex medical problems aren't developed in a vacuum," says Charles Doarn, associate professor of surgery and biomedical engineering, "so to make significant advances in medicine we have to encourage innovation and collaboration.

"The best way to do that is to bring the brightest minds together to share ideas. That's what we're doing every day at the CSI."

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