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July 2009 Issue

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Center for Surgical Innovation Creates Healthy Ties to Industry

By Amanda Harper
Published July 2009

By combining the intellectual prowess of academic clinicians and researchers with the resources of private health care industry, the possibilities for impactful medical breakthroughs seem endless. But in certain situations, this academic-industry marriage can raise questions about conflict of interest that ruin the work's credibility.

UC's Center for Surgical Innovation (CSI) stands ready to bridge the gap by providing an environment that enables healthy collaboration between academic faculty and the private medical industry. Completed in 2006, the CSI space includes both a teaching laboratory and a sterile operating room equipped with the latest surgical technology and videoconferencing capabilities.
"Device companies may not be able to get into the operating room to do product demonstrations, but they can conduct hands-on training sessions outside of the hospital or clinic," explains Joseph Konys, CSI business manager. "Conflict of interest is a serious concern, but education is a method for the medical industry to collaborate with physicians without blurring the lines."

Located on the R level of the Medical Sciences Building, the CSI provides access to cadavers and animals for independent medical device development and training sessions, a service that is only available at university-affiliated facilities. In collaboration with UC's Institutional Review Board, the CSI can also pair medical companies with UC faculty members to pursue justifiable medical studies. Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Boston Scientific and AtriCure are among the current users of the space.

"The last thing a physician wants to do is use a device the first time on a live patient, so we are providing a valuable service," says Krista Greider, a local representative for Medtronic. "We can offer the physicians several hours of practice time so that they become completely comfortable with our device and its nuances before ever stepping into the operating room."

Since 2006, Greider's company has partnered with Hammam Akbik, MD, of UC's anesthesiology department, to conduct pain device demonstrations and training labs for fellows several times a year. She also uses the CSI space to conduct regional and national teaching labs for Medtronic's affiliated physicians.

"I've participated in labs where it's just a cadaver on a table. As a teaching lab, the CSI offers so much more to enhance the educational experience: video cameras with scopes where you can visualize what is happening in the incision on a screen in the operating room, live webcam hook-ups to broadcast the training to remote places, LCD screens in the lobby so that everyone can learn from the lab--even if there are capacity issues," she explains. "The space is truly state-of-the-art and has virtually everything we need to train these physicians who are going out in the field and actually performing procedures with our devices."

From an educational perspective, Akbik says incorporating hands-on training opportunities at CSI training space into the anesthesiology training program has made a significant difference in  attracting potential fellowship trainees.

"Out of 143 anesthesiology fellowship programs in the United States, UC is the only one that offers hands-on monthly cadaver labs," says Akbik. "This additional practice on real human anatomy--not computer modeling or simulation models--better prepares our fellows for practicing medicine independently."

As a result, he says, the UC training program has risen in national rankings for U.S. anesthesiology/pain fellowship programs.  

"The CSI is an underutilized resource that both the health care industry and the UC Academic Health Center community should use more," he adds. "The lab is unique. Similar facilities in the area don't have the conveniences of an on-site hotel, new lecture hall and convenient airport hub that the CSI offers."

For more information on CSI services, contact Elyssa Westrich at or (513) 558-5334. 

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