Labadie receives distinguished alumni award from University of Pittsburgh

Robert F. Labadie, associate professor of biomedical engineering, is the recipient of the 2012 Department of Bioengineering Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering.

Labadie was the first Ph.D. recipient (’95) from the University of Pittsburgh’s bioengineering program. During his training, Labadie was a member of the Artificial Heart Program and clinically monitored implanted patients. Under Harvey Borovetz’ guidance, his thesis work explored the way in which veins respond to arterial conditions. This highly successful project resulted in multiple publications, research awards, and his first patent.

From 1996 until 2001, Labadie completed residency training in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During this time, he became interested in cochlear implants – electronic devices surgically implanted in the inner ear to restore hearing to the deaf.

In 2001 he joined the faculty of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., where he is currently a tenured associate professor in the department of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery with a joint appointment in the department of biomedical engineering.

His clinical specialty is otology with emphasis on surgical rehabilitation of the hearing impaired. He has performed hundreds of cochlear implant surgeries including the first bilateral implantation in Tennessee.

He is the author of more than 80 peer-reviewed papers, has been granted four patents, and has presented his research nationally and internationally. His research is supported by the National Institutes of Health from which he has received multiple grants as principal investigator.

He has developed and is clinically testing a new method for surgically placing cochlear implants using image-guided technology – a method which could result in quicker and less invasive surgery. His group is also working on augmenting surgeons’ skills using robots to perform highly routine, repetitive tasks allowing surgeons to focus their manual efforts on fine dissection in close proximity to critical anatomy.

Labadie is a Member of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the American Otological Society, the American Neurotology Society, the Triological Society, and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

Labadie earned his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1996. He holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Notre Dame.