National Science Foundation workshop set for Feb. 5-6

February 4, 2015 | Events, Research, UToday, Engineering
By Lindsay Mahaney

Scientific innovation and research is constantly making an impact in the medical community, and The University of Toledo is contributing to the story.

The University of Toledo will host a biannual conference this week to review projects conducted through the National Science Foundation’s center on campus. The conference will be held Thursday and Friday, Feb. 5 and 6, at the UT College of Engineering Complex starting at 7:30 a.m. both days and ending at 7 p.m. Thursday and 1 p.m. Friday. It will include presentations from students, faculty and staff about their research as well as keynote speakers.

The Center for Disruptive Musculoskeletal Innovations (CDMI) was founded by Dr. Jeffrey Lotz of the University of California at San Francisco and Dr. Vijay Goel, UT professor of bioengineering and orthopedic surgery, last July through the National Science Foundation’s Industry/University Cooperative Research Center. This center is one of only four nationally in the area of health and safety. It joins industry members and faculty from UT and the University of California at San Francisco to define and fund industry-inspired, precompetitive research projects and other collaborative initiatives, according to Goel. The center maintains itself as a primary source for fundamental research on clinical outcomes and cost data, implant materials, tissue engineering, biosensors, implant testing protocols, and novel imaging in the musculoskeletal domain.

“To have a National Science Foundation center is very prestigious,” Goel, CDMI co-director, said. “To see that the faculty are working side by side with industry to translate research discoveries is exciting, and it allows us to accelerate our efforts to create value for society.”

Last July, faculty members proposed projects to the CDMI Industry Advisory Board, which evaluated, ranked and voted to fund 15 projects this year, Lotz, director and vice chair of research, said.

One of the exciting aspects of the biannual meeting is that students will present the CDMI project updates to the Industry Advisory Board, which consists of high-level executives in 12 businesses or organizations in the medical field, including Medtronic, Depuy Spine, Orthofix, Eli Lilly and Co., Osteonovus, Spinal Balance, and the Foundation for Osteoporosis Research and Education.

“This will be a unique training experience for many of our students since they will be able to meet and interact with many of the industry executives and get immediate feedback on their projects,” Goel said.

Marcel Ingels, a second-year bioengineering master’s student, is one of the presenters slated for the workshop. His research focus has been on the development of robotic knee joint surgical instruments. Ingels explained that he, under supervision from Bioengineering and Orthopedic Surgery Professor Dr. Anand Agarwal, has been working on a surgical tool that will be used to dissect hard tissue during a total knee arthroplasty, more commonly known as knee replacement — a surgical procedure to relieve pain by replacing the worn-out weight-bearing surfaces of the knee joint.

“It’s hopefully going to be a popular technique to improve surgical success,” Ingels said.

Marie Zipp, a second-year occupational therapy doctoral student, also will present at the conference. Zipp, along with her research partner, Alyssa Kihara, and Occupation Therapy Professor Dr. Martin Rice, have been conducting the study titled “Peak Back Torque and Range of Motion as Predictors for Subsequent Back Injury at 6 and 12 Months: A Cohort Study.” This study uses a device developed by one of the Industry Advisory Board companies, Turning Point, that measures the range of motion and amount of torque an individual is able to generate in the back during the twisting of the shoulders or hips.

Zipp explained that they also plan to look at the hospital’s injury records of UT medical care employees after six and 12 months from the initial time they take their back measurements to track whether any participant has a back injury from handling a patient. Together, the data will enable the trio to determine whether such back metrics can be used to predict back injury in health-care workers.

The best part about being involved in the conference, according to Ingels, is that students receive feedback from industry to help them develop into successful engineers.

“We’re working hand in hand with the industry and getting face time with industry members,” he said. “They’re going to get to see what we’re producing out of this lab and hopefully it’ll turn into a job.”

Zipp agreed: “It is a great opportunity to be presenting at the CDMI conference. I feel honored to be able to present to so many people and to be able to learn from others’ projects as well. I hope to be able to meet and thank some of the individuals who have helped us with our project along the way, and to have the opportunity to gain the skill and comfort to present at a forum like this one.”

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