Surgery and engineering initiative becomes institute


(Vanderbilt University)

VISE is keeping its acronym but changing its name.

The Vanderbilt Initiative in Surgery and Engineering will become the Vanderbilt Institute in Surgery and Engineering.

The promotion from a three-year trial program to an established institute is the consequence of a Vanderbilt Reinvestment Award from the University’s $50 million Trans-Institutional Program, which is part of Vanderbilt’s new Academic Strategic Plan.

“This investment represents the university’s commitment to the continued success of an exceptional cross-disciplinary effort to create new surgical devices and techniques and to support their translation from bench to bedside,” Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan Wente said. “This kind of research holds tremendous promise for both improving the quality and reducing the cost of healthcare.”

ViSE was formed in 2011 when a team of Vanderbilt engineers and surgeons came together to formalize the collaborative efforts that they had been previously pursuing informally. Their goal was to break down the barriers that discouraged collaboration between the two groups and to inspire innovative projects in surgery and healthcare. In a few years, participation in the initiative has grown to more than 30 faculty members from the School of Medicine and School of Engineering and the members have acquired more than $20 million in active grants. The operation has five full-time staff members and supports 29 post-doctoral researchers and graduate students.

“One of Vanderbilt’s true strengths is the way that faculty from across all disciplines collaborate. ViSE serves as a compelling example of what can happen when disciplines work together in pursuit of a common goal,” Jeff Balser, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, said. “Through this new investment ViSE will continue to serve as a catalyst for innovation that will ultimately result in improved patient care.”

The TIPs award will help VISE pursue its long-term goals, which are to:

  • Become the premier center for the training of the next generation of surgeons, engineers and computer scientists capable of coming up with new solutions to complex interventional problems, ultimately resulting in improved patient care;
  • Expand the network of collaborations by seeding new trans-institutional projects;
  • Solidify collaborations among engineers and physicians through a new physician-in-residence program;
  • Recruit the best postdoctoral and medical fellows;
  • Invigorate graduate education through new interdisciplinary graduate certificates;
  • Create engaging immersion experiences for undergraduate students.

“The ViSE initiative was originally funded for three years through the collaborative efforts of the Provost’s office and the Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs,” said Director Benoit Dawant, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor in Engineering. “It was an ‘incubation period’ used to demonstrate that the idea was viable. During this period we convinced the administration that it is something worth investing in for the long run.”

ViSE was one of 17 projects selected for the inaugural round of Trans-Institutional Program awards.

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