Truly remarkable innovation only occurs when a variety of disciplines join forces.
Take, for example, the partnership between ME Professor Albert Shih and James Geiger, associate professor of surgery at the UM Medical School. Their combined expertise in the fields of engineering and medicine has produced a number of novel devices for use in the medical world, the most recent of which being of particular significance to pediatric surgery.
The device is a pyloric clamp to be used in the treatment of pyloric stenosis, a condition in which an infant’s pylorus—the opening from the stomach into the small intestine—is narrowed. Pyloromyotomy, the procedure necessary in treating this disease, is the second most common surgery in infants.
Shih and Geiger’s pyloric clamp was designed in fall 2004 in collaboration with past ME students Catherine Brouillette, Ted Ketai and Rusha Patel. Last year, the device was licensed to Karl Storz—an international company in the production and sale of medical instruments and devices—and is now used by pediatric surgeons worldwide.
The clamp is one of the latest projects to come out of the UM Medical Innovation Center (MIC), an interdisciplinary collaboration between the UM Medical School, Dental School, Ross School of Business, College of Engineering and Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research. Co-founded by Shih and Geiger in 2008, MIC creates multidisciplinary teams to participate in medical technology education and research.
The work being done at MIC aligns well with Shih’s perspective on the process of contributing to healthcare and society.
Identifying the needs and problems only gets you part of the way there, Shih says. What happens beyond these stages—the creation of a commercialization plan and, ultimately, the impact to healthcare and contribution to society—are vital to the kind of innovation that MIC fosters.