Engineering’s Nabil Simaan named ASME Fellow

Nabil Simaan, professor of mechanical engineering, has been elected a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a distinction awarded to ASME members who have made significant engineering achievements.

Nabil Simaan

Simaan is being honored for his pioneering contributions to the modeling, design and practice of continuum and soft robots for surgery. His research has inspired the architecture for many commercial and academic systems for dexterous minimally invasive surgery.

Simaan also has faculty appointments in computer science and otolaryngology and he is a faculty member in the Vanderbilt Institute for Surgery and Engineering.

Simaan’s Advanced Robotics and Mechanism Applications Laboratory at Vanderbilt leads the way in advancing several robotics technologies for medical use, including miniature robots for single small-incision, cochlear implant and minimally invasive bladder and throat surgeries.

Simaan has many firsts in medical robotics. He is co-inventor of the Insertable Robotic Effector Platform. IREP—a portfolio of multiple patents—is believed to be the world’s smallest robotic system and was hailed as a medical science breakthrough in 2013. His other works led to the formation of Auris Surgical and his IREP surgical system has led to the development of the Titan SPORT system for single-port access surgery.

He has developed the first generation of steerable electrodes and application of robotics for cochlear implant surgery, the first system for intelligent and safe access into the airways for achieving trans-nasal surgery of the upper airways, and the first system for transurethral resection of bladder tumors.

Among all cancer diagnoses, the incidence of bladder cancer ranks fourth in the United States and seventh worldwide in males. The transurethral robot platform called TURBot is the first endoscopic robotic system to provide full surgical coverage with visibility of the bladder, including the neck and dome, and the first to have been evaluated during in vivo animal experiments.

His group also offered the methods and first demonstration of robot-assisted micro-stent deployment in blood vessels matching the size of retinal branch veins. Recently, he also developed models and demonstrated 3D optical coherence tomography using continuum robots capable of micro-motion.

Simaan’s work has been recognized by several best paper nominations and wins and enabled by an NSF Career award and several competitive NSF and NIH awards.

Simann served as an associate editor for ASME Journal of Mechanisms & Robotics, 2018-2021, and he organized a workshop on continuum robots, ASME DSCC 2017.

He is a senior member of the IEEE and has served as an editor for IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Robotics, editorial board member of Robotica, area chair for Robotics Science and Systems, and corresponding co-chair for the IEEE Technical Committee on Surgical Robotics.

Simaan received his Ph.D. from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology in 2002. In 2003-2004, he served as a postdoctoral research scientist at Johns Hopkins University National Science Foundation ERC-CISST. In 2005, he joined Columbia University as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. In 2010, he joined Vanderbilt University as an associate professor of mechanical engineering with secondary appointments in computer science and in otolaryngology.

Contact: Brenda Ellis, 615 343-6314