St. Luke’s University Health Network and Lehigh University have signed a formal agreement to continue to collaborate on interdisciplinary research projects that combine such disparate disciplines as clinical medicine and mechanical engineering. The goal is to advance innovations in health technology.
“We’ve been collaborating with Lehigh University on educational and clinical projects informally for some time,” said William Delong, MD, Chairman of Orthopedics, St. Luke’s University Health Network. “This agreement will move us into a collaboration that will include basic scientific research that will generate projects that will improve patient care.”
Dr. Delong and his team at St. Luke’s are currently partnering with the team of Lesley Chow, assistant professor of bioengineering and materials science and engineering, and Hannah Dailey, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Lehigh. At present, the team is working toward clinical applications based on biomaterials for cartilage repair. But ambitions reach higher.
“The platform we’re developing can build polymeric structures that induce regeneration of tissue, and we will be able to tweak its parameters and apply it to lots of different clinical therapeutic areas,” said Dailey. “Medical treatment for orthopedic injuries and degenerative joint disease can be incredibly difficult for patients. We think our technology can make a real difference.”
Lee Riley, MD, Network Chairman of Oncology and the Director of Surgical Research, has worked with several Lehigh University research teams on the design and ergonomic limitations of some tools he currently uses in surgery. The research teams were made up of students in Lehigh’s Technical Entrepreneurship Capstone program which gives juniors, seniors and graduate students in engineering, business and the design arts the opportunity to work in interdisciplinary teams with industrial sponsors to design, fabricate and produce new products. The students worked under the direction of faculty advisor Brian Slocum, Managing Director of Design Programs. Dr. Riley provided guidance and feedback on the teams’ design concepts and 3D-printed prototypes.
“I met with two teams of engineering students over the course of several months,” said Dr. Riley. “I described a device to be built and used in the operating room to help retract breast tissue (a retractor). My concepts were relatively simple but not commercially available.
“The Lehigh teams developed a number of different devices, all quite different, all very creative,” he added. “We met with both teams periodically and reviewed the devices. The teams then moved forward and created new versions of the devices. This ultimately culminated in 3-D engineering/printing of the devices.”
Additional projects are ongoing or have yet to begin.
Note: This story was contributed by St. Luke’s University Health Network. Its publication is part of a news partnership between Saucon Source and SLUHN.