Link Foundation Fellowships Newsletter

Inside this Issue


Meet this Year's Fellowship Recipients

Link Fellowship Awardees For 2012

Advanced Simulation and Training


Name: Hao Su
Department: Mechanical Engineering Department
School: Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Project: Haptic Training and Interventional System for MRI-guided Percutaneous Needle Placement
Research Advisor: Gregory S. Fischer

Hao Su is currently a PhD candidate in the department of Mechanical Engineering of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He was a finalist of Best Medical Robotics Paper Award at the 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. He was also a recipient of Dr. Richard Schlesinger Award from the American Society for Quality. His current research interests include surgical robotics, teleoperation and humanoid robots. He holds a BS degree in Control Science and Engineering from the Harbin Institute of Technology and a MS degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Percutaneous needle placement, a minimally invasive procedure performed many times in the U.S. each year, relies on dedicated skill and long-term training due to difficult control of needle trajectory inside tissue. MRI provides ideal procedure guidance with the merit of excellent soft tissue contrast and volumetric imaging. The objective of the research is to design and evaluate a piezoelectrically actuated master slave robotic system that provides real-time visual and force feedback to the surgeon to improve procedure learning curve and enhance placement accuracy by pre-operative training and intra-operative robotic assistance.



Name: Niel Tenenholtz
Department: School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
School: Harvard University
Project: Improving the Outcome of Heart Valve Surgery through Simulation-Based Training
Research Advisor: Robert D. Howe

Neil Tenenholtz is an Electrical Engineering PhD student at Harvard University.  He is currently advised by Dr. Robert Howe and is a member of Dr. Howe's BioRobotics Lab.  Prior to enrolling at Harvard, Neil graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009 with a BSEng in Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics, a BSEcon with a concentration in Finance, and a MSME with a concentration in Robotics.  He was also previously an NSF Graduate Research Fellow.

Through the generous support of the Link Foundation, Neil's research will focus on Improving the Outcome of Heart Valve Surgery through Simulation-Based Training.  Mitral valve repair is the recommended procedure used to correct mitral regurgitation, the improper backflow of blood across the valve.  Due to the difficulty of the procedure, it is often avoided in lieu of less effective but less technically challenging alternatives.  It has been shown that the rate of valve repair is strongly correlated with surgeon experience.  Through the use of computer-based simulation, this work hopes to identify and target the learned skills that enable experienced surgeons to successfully perform valve repair thereby allowing for improved surgeon training.