Indiana University’s Fibers & Additive Manufacturing Enabled Systems Lab at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering has entered into a new research agreement on smart fiber technology with Bloomington-based medical device company Cook Medical.
A 12-month project researching smart fiber technology will be the first project of the five-year master research agreement, Dr. Sean Chambers, director of Cook Medical's New Ventures Research Program, said. The project aims to apply smart fibers, or fibers with sensing capabilities, to medical devices so they can measure properties like heart rate and blood pressure.
“This technology intrigued us because there's real potential to impact patient care,” Chambers said. “Our hope is we can improve patient outcomes because the doctor can better understand what she's seeing and doing during the procedure.”
Chambers said the research hopes to give medical devices used in minimally invasive procedures, such as catheters and endoscopes, remote sensing abilities or, the ability to monitor physiological characteristics of patients.
“We're trying to do that to medical devices that are in the bloodstream or in the urinary tract so they can measure key things locally,” Chambers said.
The FAMES Lab, established in 2016 as part of IU’s Department of Intelligent Systems Engineering, uses 3-D printing technologies to manufacture fibers. Its work uses mechanical, electrical and biomedical engineering, and it will now design ways to add its smart fibers to Cook Medical’s non-sensing medical devices.
Cook Medical is excited to collaborate with the FAMES Lab and its Director Dr. Alexander Gumennik, Chambers said.
“We're a homegrown Bloomington, Indiana, company and the opportunity to work with someone like Dr. Gumennik, who is really a thought leader in this space, is pretty unique,” Chambers said. “It's exciting to have one of the largest medical device companies here in Bloomington and this world expert all in one location.”
Chambers said the project sets a precedent for future research between Cook Medical and IU.
“We’re really hopeful this will be an opportunity for future collaboration, and we’re already having some discussions with other groups within the university,” Chambers said.
Gumennik said the engineering capabilities of the FAMES Lab made the project possible.
“It’s the first time that Cook is doing some hardcore engineering with Bloomington,” Gumennik said. “Indiana University is not historically an engineering school, but now we have a large-scale engineering lab that is capable of delivering technologies that are of interest to Cook.”
Collaborating with Cook Medical will offer new internship opportunities for students at the FAMES Lab, boost IU’s engineering program and provide a streamline to industry, Gumennik said.
“IU has the resources to deliver world-class results in these areas,” Gumennik said. “Even if people are not used to thinking about IU as an engineering school, they will slowly get accustomed to it when they see output in those engineering areas.”