Pittsburgh CREATES

S+S Fall 2022

CREATES (Collaborative Research, Education And Technology Advancement in Surgery) has been productive in the last six months.

Funded by a grant to the Eye & Ear Foundation by an anonymous local foundation, and spearheaded by the Department of Otolaryngology since 2017, Pittsburgh CREATES is a collaboration between the medical industry, bioengineers, and surgeons to develop new surgical technology and train the next generation of surgeons in the use of advanced surgical technologies.

“The momentum behind CREATES continues to build, and I am excited to see the center develop into a hub for surgical innovation and education for the Pittsburgh biotech community,” said José Zevallos, Otolaryngology Department Chair.

In April, Norman Gottron was hired as the new Director. According to his bio, he brings a multi-disciplinary background to the center with over 14 years of experience in engineering, research, management of shared lab facilities, consulting, business development, and partnerships between industry and academia.

Personnel-wise, there were two new hires and one promotion. In May, the center hosted a lab event with a division of Medtronic, where surgeons evaluated some new products from the company.

In July, Dr. Uma Duvvuri, Medical Director, and Gottron attended the Society of Robotic Surgery in Orlando. In early September, they hosted students from a Carnegie Mellon Surgical Robotics course. Dr. Duvvuri gave a lecture and a hands-on training session on the Intuitive Da Vinci surgical system that is housed in CREATES. Students had a chance to sit at the operator console and manipulate the actual robot.

Gottron has been working with key opinion leaders over the past couple of months to redefine CREATES’ mission and vision statements. “It was an opportune time to evaluate the changing landscape for innovation at the university as we collectively pull through the COVID-era with new personnel in place,” he said. “Over a couple of meetings, we took a critical look at our past successes and opportunities as we considered what distinguishes us at the university. The statements are being finalized now and will be published to the website in the near future.”

Two years after COVID, interactions with external companies are ramping up again, so CREATES is augmenting its existing pipeline and continuing to make progress on projects.

“I feel there is great potential for CREATES,” Gottron said. “I look forward to engaging with stakeholders across Pitt, UPMC, and externally as we look to take the next steps as an organization.”