First hospital-based ‘biomedical engineer-in-residence’ appointed

The first ‘biomedical engineer-in-residence’ has been appointed at Western Sydney University’s Clinical School at Liverpool Hospital – uniting the worlds of engineering and medicine in the hope of identifying better solutions for clinicians and better health outcomes for patients.

The position – supported by Western Sydney University’s MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour & Development, South West Institute for Robotics and Automation in Health (SWIRAH) and Liverpool Hospital – will not only provide a vital link between clinicians and researchers in the development of cutting-edge technology, but also hopes to enhance medical staff training and enhance the day-to-day operation of the hospital and patient cycle-of-care.

Appointee to the position, Dr Gough Lui from the MARCS Institute says he feels honoured to be appointed to the role – working together with Associate Professor Paul Breen and Dr Gaetano Gargiulo, also from the MARCS Institute – and is excited to have the chance to tackle important problems that could improve people’s lives.

“Throughout my research career I have seen first-hand that real-world challenges are rarely the domain of a single field. For a successful solution with impact, people from different fields need to collaborate more effectively.

“Through diligent observation and increasing collaboration, I can see this role being a vital link between clinicians and researchers that will potentially bring a lot of good ideas into reality and avoid missed opportunities,” says Dr Lui.

MARCS Institute Director Professor Kate Stevens says, “the MARCS Institute at Western is thrilled to partner with SWIRAH and the South Western Sydney Local Health District in this endeavour”.

“Dr Lui and colleagues will be on site, co-designing with clinicians new solutions to practical problems using biomedical engineering techniques. Our mission is to optimize new technologies for healthcare and bridge some of the barriers to their implementation," says Professor Stevens.

As part of the role, Dr Lui will also be involved with six new projects that will look at how robotic technology can be developed at high speed, to help with new surgical applications. The first of these ‘wearable-technology based’ projects, ‘smart gloves’, is a SWIRAH collaboration project which aims to reduce the learning curve associated with a variety of surgical techniques (open, laparoscopic and robotic) by, according to Dr Lui, improving the feedback that trainees get.

“In many cases, training can involve experts ‘watching over the shoulder’ of a trainee and recording scores on a score sheet which can be subjective and miss fine motor movements. By creating a set of ‘smart-gloves’, we hope to be able to clearly show trainees what their hands are doing in real-time as well as how their hand movements compare to those of expert surgeons.

“This could potentially free-up experienced surgeons from the burden of watching trainees, while opening up more training opportunities to reduce the time to proficiency," says Dr Lui.

This is an example of research making an impact – the focus of the 2018 Town & Gown Gala Dinner, supported by gold sponsors Brydens Lawyers, Charter Hall and PwC Australia.


19 October 2018

Emma Sandham, Senior Media Office