ViSE grant builds prototypes, encourages innovation

What if there was a program that connected surgeons, physicians, nursing staff, and other medical care providers with a team of the nation’s top engineers? What if that program enabled the transfer of innovative ideas to working prototypes – financially and developmentally?

Fortunately for the Vanderbilt community, there is. Established in the fall of 2012, the Interventional Device Prototyping program is administered by the Vanderbilt Initiative in Surgery and Engineering (ViSE) and has already assisted roughly two dozen innovative ideas generated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Of those ideas, a handful surpassed ideation and are now working prototypes, several of which are patent-pending. The end goal is to move these prototypes out of the engineering labs and into the marketplace by licensing them to industry.

“There are so many great ideas inside hospitals,” said Ray Lathrop, Vanderbilt postdoc who is coordinating the program. “Our goal is to evaluate these ideas and support them with working prototypes, patent protection, and ultimately, commercialization”

One idea that is currently making its way through the system is the Grasping Applicator for Surgical Positioning (GRASP), pictured right, an endonasal graft placement tool that is used to repair skull base defects. This device was a winning submission in the Design and Medical Device (DMD) Three-in-Five Competition this past April.

The program awards up to $4,000 for materials and prototype development and works with the Vanderbilt’s Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization (CTTC) to assist invetors with intellectual property and licensing issues.

To learn more, email Ray Lathrop.