The University of Rochester is combining its medical, engineering, and entrepreneurial expertise to create the Center for Medical Technology Innovation (CMTI).
A collaboration of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the School of Medicine and Dentistry, CMTI will also make use of the University’s Center for Entrepreneurship as it coordinates activities to develop technological solutions to clinical problems.
“The medical device industry employs numerous engineers who lack critical clinical experience,” said Robert Clark, dean of the Hajim School. “This new center will help close that gap.”
The center will offer a master’s degree program in medical technology innovation. Students in the program will spend a minimum of two months in a clinical environment, enabling them to serve as a bridge between the medical and engineering faculty.
Ankur Chandra, M.D., the medical director of CMTI, said a recent development at the University of Rochester Medical Center validates the importance of the center’s approach.
Since multiple medical conditions such as aortic aneurysms can now be addressed by inserting devices through blood vessels—rather than by open surgery—larger catheters are needed to place through the femoral artery in the thigh, the point where the devices are inserted. “One of our students, Rachel Rakvica, noticed that the larger openings allowed for newer techniques to close the artery—a novel approach that did not require incisions,” said Chandra. “We’ve obtained a provisional patent, with the hope of further developing the technology.”
Amy Lerner, the academic director of CMTI, has had a great deal of experience guiding students in the medical device development process. An associate professor of biomedical engineering, Lerner directs the senior design course, a year-long program in which teams of students partner with clinicians, companies, and other institutions to solve real-world engineering problems. “The new center will be critical in helping take student and faculty design solutions to the next step,” said Lerner. “We’ll work closely with industry to address design challenges, which will also help prepare our students for careers in healthcare.”
One company that is partnering with the Center for Medical Technology Innovation is W.L. Gore & Associates, which manufactures medical devices and high-performance fabrics. “Gore is pleased to collaborate with the University of Rochester in this unique program, blending device design with clinical application,” said Gore Business Leader Ryan Takeuchi. “The net result should be improved clinical applicability of device designs, a pool of highly qualified medical device design candidates entering the private employment sector, and ultimately a contribution to better patient outcomes.”
The executive director of CMTI will be Greg Gdowski, who earned a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Boston University and worked as a research fellow at Blue Highway, an engineering services company in Syracuse. Gdowski believes the new center will increase the national visibility and stature of the University of Rochester and its biomedical engineering program. He added, “It will also help foster growth and collaboration between faculty at the Hajim School and those at the Medical Center.”