Friday, March 4, 2011

Sheikh Zayed Institute Bioengineering team visits robotic surgery company and research institute


Six members of the Sheikh Zayed Institute visited Intuitive Surgical Company in Sunnyvale, Calif., recently to share mutual research interests with the company that owns the only clinical robotic surgical system in the world—the DaVinci Surgical System. Four members of the Bioengineering Initiative -- Kevin Cleary, PhD, Raj Shekhar, PhD, Tim Kane, MD, and Craig Peters, MD -- as well as Larry Mahan, PhD, director of innovation and business development for the Institute, and Angela Francart, RN, vice president for Perioperative Services in the Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Center for Surgical Care at Children’s National, participated in the visit. (photo: Craig Peters uses the demo Da Vinci Surgical System at Intuitive Surgical.)

The DaVinci Surgical System is used for performing delicate surgical procedures. Though it is not used frequently in children, Dr. Peters has implemented it in pediatric urology for several years, operating on children as young as 3 months old. The team’s goal on this trip was to help build a research relationship with Intuitive, in the hopes that Children’s National and the Sheikh Zayed Institute can collaborate with the company to conduct research into effective pediatric uses of the surgical robotic system.

The Institute will work together with the Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Center for Surgical Care to develop a clinical program of pediatric minimally invasive surgical robotics, led by Drs. Kane and Peters. Additionally, research projects in the emerging field of pediatric surgical robotics are a primary interest of the Institute’s bioengineering initiative. The capabilities of the bioengineering team, the clinical experience in robotics of Dr. Peters, and the potential for growth in pediatric robotic surgery position the Institute’s efforts in robotics as one of the first multi-disciplinary translational research programs in pediatric surgical robotics in country. (photo: Tim Kane takes a turn on the Da Vinci demo.)

The team toured the manufacturing plant and were able to try out the latest technical systems in real-time and simulation. One highlight was Intuitive’s new integrated virtual reality simulation package, which permits enhanced teaching, practice, and assessment of surgical robotic skills. The 3D surgical simulation experience, coupled with the look and feel of a high-end video game, made it very difficult for some of the team to walk away from the system at the end of their time.

The following day, four members of the team visited SRI International, a world renown research institute that originally created the technology for the DaVinci Surgical System. Set on a shaded campus adjacent to Stanford University, SRI International was far removed from the business-like atmosphere of Intuitive Surgical. The team met with SRI to share ideas about the direction of pediatric robotic surgery and to learn about ongoing novel projects at SRI related to minimally invasive and robotic surgery. Many of those developments could also apply to children.

Overall, these site visits helped the team in many ways, including reinforcing their commitment to developing novel means to enhance surgical robotics for children. More visits to additional research facilities and organizations, to learn and build on best practices from around the world, will be an integral part of the Institute’s development and knowledge sharing efforts in years to come.

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