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St. Luke’s and Lehigh University Research Collaboration for Innovations in Health Technology
December 01, 2017

BETHLEHEM, PA – St. Luke’s University Health Network and Lehigh University have signed a formal agreement to continue to collaborate on interdisciplinary research projects that combine such disparate disciplines as clinical medicine and mechanical engineering. The goal: innovative advances in health technology.

“We’ve been collaborating with Lehigh University on educational and clinical projects informally for some time,” says William Delong, MD, Chairman of Orthopedics, St. Luke’s University Health Network. “This agreement will move us into a collaboration that will include basic scientific research that will generate projects that will improve patient care.”

Dr. Delong and his team at St. Luke’s are currently partnering with the team of Lesley Chow, assistant professor of bioengineering and materials science and engineering, and Hannah Dailey, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Lehigh. At present, the team is working toward clinical applications based on biomaterials for cartilage repair. But ambitions reach higher.

“The platform we’re developing can build polymeric structures that induce regeneration of tissue, and we will be able to tweak its parameters and apply it to lots of different clinical therapeutic areas,” says Dailey. “Medical treatment for orthopedic injuries and degenerative joint disease can be incredibly difficult for patients. We think our technology can make a real difference.”

Lee Riley, MD, Network Chairman of Oncology and the Director of Surgical Research, has worked with several Lehigh University research teams on the design and ergonomic limitations of some tools he currently uses in surgery. The research teams were made up of students in Lehigh’s Technical Entrepreneurship Capstone program which gives juniors, seniors and graduate students in engineering, business, and the design arts the opportunity to work in interdisciplinary teams with industrial sponsors to design, fabricate and produce new products. The students worked under the direction of faculty advisor Brian Slocum, Managing Director of Design Programs. Dr. Riley provided guidance and feedback on the teams’ design concepts and 3D-printed prototypes.

“I met with two teams of engineering students over the course of several months,” says Dr. Riley. “I described a device to be built and used in the operating room to help retract breast tissue (a retractor). My concepts were relatively simple but not commercially available.

“The Lehigh teams developed a number of different devices, all quite different, all very creative. We met with both teams periodically and reviewed the devices. The teams then moved forward and created new versions of the devices. This ultimately culminated in 3-D engineering/printing of the devices.”

Additional projects are ongoing or have yet to begin.

Media Contact:

Sam Kennedy, Corporate Communications Director, 484-526-4134, samuel.kennedy@sluhn.org

About St. Luke’s

Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network providing services at seven hospitals and more than 270 outpatient sites in the greater Lehigh Valley. The network’s service area includes 10 counties: Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Schuylkill, Bucks, Montgomery, Berks and Monroe counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey.  In partnership with Temple University, St. Luke’s created the region’s first and only regional medical school campus. Dedicated to advancing health education, St. Luke’s operates the nation’s oldest School of Nursing and 23 graduate medical educational programs and is considered a major teaching hospital – the only one in its region. Repeatedly, including 2017, St. Luke’s earned Truven’s 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital and 50 Top Cardiovascular Program designations, in addition to other honors for clinical excellence. St. Luke’s is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of St. Luke’s information technology applications such as electronic medical records, telehealth, online scheduling and pricing information. St. Luke’s is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest cost providers.