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Classroom to Clinic: Merging Education and Research to Efficiently Prototype Medical Devices

Hanumara and N Begg, MIT; C Walsh, Harvard University; D Custer, MIT; R Gupta and LR Osborn, Massachusetts General Hospital and A Slocum, MIT

Classroom to Clinic: Merging Education and Research to Efficiently Prototype Medical Devices

Innovation in patient care requires both clinical and technical skills, and this paper presents the methods and outcomes of a nine-year, clinical-academic collaboration to develop and evaluate new medical device technologies, while teaching mechanical engineering. Together, over the course of a single semester, seniors, graduate students and clinicians conceive, design, build and test proof-of-concept prototypes. Projects initiated in the course have generated intellectual property and peer-reviewed publications, stimulated further research, furthered student and clinician careers, and resulted in technology licenses and start-up ventures.

Videos of translational projects that have resulted from the MIT program, including the CT-guided percutaneous robotic biopsy; the Kidney Cooler; the LapHand for manipulating large tissue masses without pinching; the EndoScrew, an endoscopic screwdriver; and a minimally invasive specimen remover. You can view these videos online here.

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Authors

NC HanumaraNC Hanumara
Mr. Hanumara is a member of the IEEE, ASME and IDSA. He is currently a postdoctoral associate in the Precision Engineering Research Group and affiliated with the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design, which focuses on solutions for India and other developing regions.

ND BeggND Begg
Mr. Begg is a member of the IEEE and ASME. He is currently a graduate student in mechanical engineering at MIT, with a research focused on improving the safety and precision of tissue puncture procedures.

D CusterD Custer
Mr. Custer teaches technical communication at MIT’s Experimental Study Group and Writing Across the Curriculum program. His research focuses on the testing and standardization of mountaineering equipment.

R GuptaR Gupta
Dr. Gupta is director of the MGH Ultra-high Resolution Volume CT Lab, Boston, MA, serves as the CIMIT Site Miner for MGH and is an instructor in radiology at Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA. Dr. Gupta’s specialties include Cardiovascular and Neuroradiology.

LR OsbornLR Osborn
Ms. Osborn a senior technical strategist and implementation leader in new program development, innovation and collaboration in education, healthcare and biomedical engineering. She is currently self-employed as a consultant.

A SlocumA Slocum
Mr. Slocum is currently a MacVicar Faculty Fellow and the Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering and directs the Precision Engineering Research Group. He is the author of seven dozen journal articles and 12 dozen conference papers as well as Precision Machine Design (Dearborn, MI, SME 1985) and FUNdaMENTALS of Design (Cambridge, MA, MIT 2005).

C WalshC Walsh
Mr. Walsh is a member of the IEEE and ASME. He received his B.A.I and B.A. degrees in mechanical and manufacturing engineering from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland in 2003 and MS in 2006 and PhD in mechanical engineering from MIT, Cambridge, MA in 2010. He is currently an assistant professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering and founder of the Biodesign Lab at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Cambridge, MA.

Editorial Comments

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the value of hands-on, translational design experiences are of paramount importance in developing engineers with the confidence, capabilities, and creative-problem solving skills necessary to be successful innovators in the field. Thus, it is increasingly common to see expanding efforts in engineering programs around the world to identify the most effective ways to provide undergraduate students with such experiences throughout their curriculum.

In this paper, Hanumara et al show us how MIT and the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT) have collaborated together to pioneer a highly successful Medical Device Design Class for its undergraduate students. Since its initiation in 2004, the program has already helped birth new intellectual property, peer-reviewed publications, start-up companies, and technology licenses. In this paper, the authors provide a detailed discussion of the class’s methodology as well as a number of case studies highlighting the project’s success.

JTEHM 2013Issue

This article appeared in the 2013 issue of IEEE Journal of Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine.
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Scope Statement

We focus on innovative solutions to healthcare needs from biomedical engineering, clinical engineering, and medical communities that bridge the engineering and clinical worlds. JTEHM's unique scope is original work at the intersection of engineering and clinical translation.

The journal’s focus is interdisciplinary collaborations among researchers, healthcare providers, and industry. We publish results and best practices from these translational efforts and serve as a community hub for researchers, clinicians, and developers who are addressing challenges in technology development, commercialization, and deployment for better global healthcare. Our ultimate goal is to improve the practice of engineering in translational medicine and to serve as a focal point for the nascent community. Our interactive content includes video, lively commentary, blogs, and other features to engage our clinical and engineering communities.