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Develop Device to Restore Hearing to the Deaf

Primary Investigators:
Dr. Robert Webster (Lab Director) and Katy Riojas
Brief Description of Project:
The Vanderbilt MED Lab is seeking talented engineers to help move a newly-developed novel insertion tool into the operating room. This device will help surgeons do a better job of installing a cochlear implant, a device that can restore hearing to deaf patients. The current process for installing the implant requires milling a large cavity in the patient’s skull bone. Our group at Vanderbilt has developed a method to use medical images to replace this milling with a narrow hole made by a customized small (medical grade) drill press that attaches to the patient’s head. This method results in a much less invasive procedure, but it makes it more difficult to deploy the thin, flexible implant into the patient’s cochlea - where sound is transformed into electrical signals that go to the brain. We are working to move a newly developed insertion tool to the operating room, and are seeking help from talented engineers to make that happen!

Desired Qualifications:
The ideal candidate is someone looking to gain research experience, who is interested in robotics, and is excited by the idea of applying their skills to medicine. Previous experience with CAD/mechanical design is desired.
Nature of Supervision:
The undergraduate will work closely with Katy Riojas, a doctoral student in the lab working on this project, who will provide direct mentorship.
A Brief Research Plan (period is for 10 weeks):
(1) Briefly review current state of insertion tool designs for cochlear implants.
(2) Design and prototype device removal devices.
(3) Outline requirements to move device into operating room.
(4) Test full workflow in cadavers. 

Number of Open Slots: 1
Contact Information:
Name: Robert J. Webster III
Department: Mechanical Engineering