The Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery’s inaugural Surgical Collaboration Day was held on Aug. 27, 2016. Over 180 clinicians, researchers and engineers in the Houston area (and from afar) gathered in the Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute to share their cutting-edge ideas and new technologies. The event provided a unique forum for new surgery-related collaborations.

Keynote Speaker

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credit: Scott HolmesAstronaut Dr. Scott Parazynski was the keynote speaker at Surgical Collaboration Day

Scott Parazynski, M.D., delivered the event’s keynote address titled “Innovation in the Extreme.” His presentation highlighted defining moments in his career where perseverance and multidisciplinary collaboration sparked innovative solutions under the most extreme conditions. Parazynski’s rousing message was that pressing the boundaries of human performance and creativity at the ends of the earth—in space, at the top of Mount Everest, from the bottom of the sea—will generate the world’s greatest medical and technological advances.

Parazynski is a prolific inventor, product developer, former NASA astronaut and serves on the boards of several organizations and companies. He co-founded Blue Marble Exploration, where he serves as chief explorer. Blue Marble is focused on pushing human capabilities in extreme environments through technology innovation and pursuing challenging expeditions around the world. Additionally, he recently founded and serves as managing director of Apogee Interests, focused on commercializing his extensive innovation portfolio, including medical devices, consumer products and gear developed for extreme environments.

In 1992, he was selected to join NASA's Astronaut Corps and eventually flew five space shuttle missions and conducted seven spacewalks ("Extravehicular Activity," or EVAs). In his 17 years as an astronaut, he served in numerous senior leadership roles, including EVA branch chief and the lead astronaut for Space Shuttle Thermal Protection System Inspection & Repair (in the aftermath of the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy). Mission highlights include a global ozone mapping mission on STS-66; leading the first joint U.S.-Russian spacewalk during STS-86 while docked to the Russian space station Mir; serving as Senator John Glenn's crewmate and "personal physician" during STS-95; and conducting EVA assembly of the Canadian-built space station arm during STS-100.

credit: Scott Holmes

Topics ranged from in utero surgery for gastroschisis to global health challenges to bridging the radiology-surgery gap. The event was divided into three sessions: Session I:  Clinicians and Surgeons featured speakers from BCM’s Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, and the Global Health Initiative. Session II: Innovators and Technologists comprised talks by faculty from Rice University, the University of Houston, and BCM’s Department of Surgery, inventors and engineers from TMC Startups, and industry thought leaders. Session III provided the opportunity for participants to attend interactive exhibitions and collaborate over lunch.

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credit: Scott HolmesDr. William E. Cohn presents at Surgical Collaboration Day

Some of the event’s highlights included Dr. Patricia Ho’s presentation on revolutionizing surgical procedures in space to meet the clinical needs of astronauts in extended duration spaceflight.

Attendees heard from experts working at the crossroads of electrical engineering, biomechanics and medicine. Dr. Bijan Najafi discussed how body-fixed sensors can enhance preoperative decision making. Rice engineering researcher, Dr. Ashu Sabharwal exhibited the PulseCam, a device that can capture skin perfusion in real time using a camera and a pulse oximeter. Also, Dr. William Cohn discussed how surgical innovation happens, and why it is so exciting and crucial.

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credit: Scott HolmesSurgical Collaboration Day exhibits

A full list of attendee-related institutes and companies/start-ups can be found below:

INSTITUTES: Baylor College of Medicine, National Space Biomedical Research Institute, Rice University, University of Houston, Texas Children’s Hospital, Ben Taub Hospital, CHI St. Luke’s Medical Center, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Global Health Initiative, Texas Heart Institute, NASA (JSC), UH-Clear Lake, UALR Emerging Analytics Center, Sam Houston State University, University of Dhaka, Louisiana State University, Greater Houston Hospitals Territory, Universities Space Research Association (USRA).

COMPANIES & START-UPs: EchoPixel, Inc., Apogee Interests, LLC, Lazarus 3D, LLC, Tech-Labs, Inc., Squareone Business Machines, LLC, Kubtec Medical Imaging, Inc., JBL Technologies, Inc., Northworks Automation, LLC, Hewlett Packard, Inc., Médica Sur, Jacobs, Inc., Seremedi, Inc., BioTex, Inc., Department for International Trade (UK), Association for British Healthcare Industries (ABHI), Medical Informatics Corp., Baker Hughes, Inc., Briteseed; Allotrope Medical; iShoeWeaRobot; iTomography.