Research at Singapore

Singapore is a great city, and its two universities are working in cooperation on certain CIS projects.
I was given a chance to visit the KTP Advanced Surgical Training Center directed by Prof. Lomanto at the National University if Singapore. The center opened last October, with an investment of over 7 M SGD. They have a whole set of Simbionix laparoscopy training stations, 10 OR setups for wet practice sessions and even a da Vinci robot. They are getting more and more popular among surgeons willing to improve their MIS skills, just as the ICRAD center in Strasbourg and Taiwan.
NUS people are working in cooperation with the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), more lately they did the first clinical trials with the MASTER robot developed at the BioRobotics group of NTU. (A recent publication was at EMBC.) The robot is intended for NOTES and single port entry procedures. (A video can be seen here.) The 12 mm regular Olympus overtube houses separate channels for the camera, the lights and the two retractable end-effectors. It's possible to use forceps, grasper, cautery hooks or similar devices at the end. The tendon-drivel mechanism is able to exert up to 20 N force, making is suitable for knot tying. Surgical suturing (closure) is one of the most critical issues with NOTES, and the NTU people are focusing on this area.
The next day I managed to tour the BioRobotics lab at NTU, lead by two talented professors, Louis Phee and Wei Tech Ang. They have approximately 20 students working with them on a wide range of projects beyond the MASTER robot.
A different thread is the development of a force based micro-manipulator stage for delicate tissue manipulations. This could serve their research on stem cells. (Currently they have a nice fish farm in the lab to get fish egg for the experiments.)
Dr. Ang graduated at CMU, working on the Micron under Cameron Riviere. Currently, they are working on the second generation with new piezo-electric actuators and finer mechanical system. They also have several other projects, out of which I got introduced a little to the BCI classifier that is intended to provide rehabilitation option for the disabled stroke patients.


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