Professor Rocky S. TUAN, Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK remarked, “As a global, leading research university, CUHK is committed to the development of high-impact, cutting-edge research and the support of interdisciplinary and international collaborations. The recent phenomenal support from the HKSAR Government has brought about a wonderful and golden opportunity for the advancement of innovation and technology in the city, the presentation of our research activities on the global stage, and the leveraging of our talents and established strengths in medicine and engineering. We are confident that the planned Medical Robotics Centre will lead to a wellspring of inspiration for the development and dissemination of medical robotic technology in Hong Kong and beyond.”
Robotic technology helps make surgical procedures and many medical treatments that were previously unachievable possible. The application of innovative technology like robotics will greatly enhance the performance of minimally invasive, robotic and endoluminal surgeries, allowing more accessible surgical treatments. Ultimately, more people with diseases can be treated with a less invasive surgical approach. With the ageing population, better patient care can be given to the elderly, and social and economic burden can be lowered.
CUHK partners with Imperial College London to develop the “Robotic Endoscopic Platform for Performance of Advanced Endoluminal Surgery”, which consists of two robotic arms, and is proved to be able to perform gastric endoscopic submucosal dissection in preclinical study.
The planned MRC will conduct three major research programmes, namely “Endoluminal Multiscale Robotic Platforms for Diagnostics and Therapeutics”, “Magnetic-guided Endoluminal Robotic Platform” and “Image-guided Robotic Interventions”, covering a wide range of specialties in medicine, including gastrointestinal endoscopy and surgery; cardiovascular and cardiac surgery; ear, nose and throat; neurology and neurosurgery; ophthalmology; orthopaedics; thoracic; and urology. Experts from electronic engineering, biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, automation engineering, computer sciences, and robotics will also be engaged on this platform.
Professor Philip Wai Yan CHIU, Co-Director of the planned MRC and Professor of the Department of Surgery of the Faculty of Medicine at CUHK said, “The Centre will focus on technological innovation with a strong emphasis on clinical translation, resulting in direct patient benefits. The transdisciplinary team, consisting of clinicians, engineers and researchers across universities in Hong Kong and worldwide, will work together on the synergistic platform created by this Centre to forge new ways to translate biomedical engineering research innovations into medical technology advances. The inventions will be applicable to both pre-clinical and clinical stages to promote a more sophisticated development of medical robots and instil confidence into patients towards these innovations.”
To further the breadth and depth of expertise involved in this initiative, industry collaboration and support has also been engaged, including global leaders in the manufacturing of precision medical equipment and instruments.
CUHK has been collaborating with Johns Hopkins University to develop medical robotic instruments and control algorithms to provide safer robotic tools for patients by making the operation safer and easier.
CUHK and ETH Zurich collaborates on magnetic-guided technology and nanorobotics research.
Professor Samuel Kwok Wai AU, Co-Director of the planned MRC and Associate Professor of the Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering of the Faculty of Engineering at CUHK, added, “Talent development is another focus of the Centre. We shall provide training for surgeons and engineers in robotic technologies to facilitate a fully-integrated clinical approach. With the translation of basic prototypes into medical products, the Centre is also expected to serve as an incubator to foster start-ups and spin-offs in biomedical engineering and healthcare technologies in Hong Kong.”
The team has submitted a proposal to the HKSAR Government under the AIR@InnoHK research cluster initiative.