University opens new state-of-the-art Medical Devices Center

New center is 'game changer' for innovation

By Rhonda Zurn

Education. Collaboration. Innovation. These are not just buzz words for faculty, students and staff who are part of the University’s new state-of-the-art Medical Devices Center opening in the spring of 2013. They are standard, every day practice.

The new Medical Devices Center, in the heart of the University’s Academic Health Center, will foster even greater collaboration between the University’s College of Science and Engineering, and Academic Health Center units in Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Nursing and Veterinary Medicine. State-of-the-art equipment and labs are used for designing and testing medical devices. Facilities include a 3D Virtual Design Lab, Imaging Lab, Anatomy and Physiology Lab, Mechanical and Electronic Fabrication Labs, Wet Lab, Brainstorming Rooms, and more.

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The new 8,000-square-foot Medical Devices Center facility in the Mayo Building on campus was specifically built for designing, prototyping and testing new medical devices. Researchers had outgrown their previous location in the University’s Shepherd Labs that opened in 2008 with 2,500 square feet and grew to 5,000 square feet in recent years.

“This new location and added space are ‘game changers’ for us,” said Medical Devices Center director and mechanical engineering professor Art Erdman. “Being in the middle of all the action within the Academic Health Center will help us connect engineering and medicine in new ways.”

The center is known worldwide as the host of the world’s largest annual Design of Medical Devices Conference. The center is also a world-renowned model for turning research and development ideas into marketable products. Over the last five years, the center’s innovation fellows have filed 120 invention disclosures. Based on these invention disclosures, the University has filed 58 patent applications.

“Just upstairs from our current Medical Devices Center is where the first wearable pacemaker was created by bringing together engineers and doctors. This launched a multibillion-dollar business,” said Medical Devices Innovation Fellows Program Director Saurav Paul. “We’re hoping to recreate some of that magic today.”

In addition to driving medical device innovation, the Medical Devices Center trains the next generation workforce. The center’s Innovation Fellows program (two medical doctors and six graduate engineers per year) draws medical and engineering professionals from around the world to train future innovation leaders in Minnesota. Additionally, the center provides support and training for more than 125 undergraduates and graduate students per year.

The Medical Devices Center is part of the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Engineering and Medicine (IEM) established in July 2007. IEM is an initiative jointly sponsored by the University’s College of Science and Engineering and Academic Health Center.The Medical Devices Center is part of the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Engineering and Medicine (IEM) established in July 2007. IEM is an initiative jointly sponsored by the University’s College of Science and Engineering and Academic Health Center. The IEM fosters a wide range of high level, goal-oriented interdisciplinary research, uniting faculty in health sciences and various engineering, science and mathematics departments.