The Genius of the Jacobs Institute

by Shannon Traphagen

A new TV show aired recently called Pure Genius, in which a Silicon Valley entrepreneur partnered with a progressive chief of staff to build a medical hospital. The show brought together engineers, surgeons, researchers, and start-up companies, working together and using 3-D printing and collaboration to treat rare diseases. Seemingly futuristic, the show is more of a reality than many realize – especially when you see what is happening at Buffalo’s Jacobs Institute (JI).

Located on the fifth floor of the Gates Vascular Institute (GVI) below the University at Buffalo’s (UB’s) Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC), the JI is creating the next generation of innovative technologies to treat heart attack, stroke, and other vascular diseases. Collaborating with physicians, engineers, entrepreneurs, industry, and researchers, the vision of the JI and its partners is to improve treatment of vascular disease locally and throughout the world.

The futuristic building that brings all of this innovation together is so unique that it was featured in Click Magazine in an article titled How Do You Build a Hospital That Can Foster Great Ideas? Indeed, the JI and the GVI is a model of the future at work. The building is airy and open, with beautiful curved walls and windows, creating a natural flow conducive to collaboration. A great example is the Clinical Immersion Program – in which industry engineers, sales representatives, and executives spend several days immersed in a clinical environment to witness the relationship between cutting-edge medical devices and patient outcomes.

Pam Marcucci, the JI’s director of program development and outreach says, “In 2016, we had 350 physicians, engineers, and sales reps from all over the world participate in the Immersion Program. They get hands-on experience with simulators, and a deeper understanding of vascular diseases and physicians’ treatment decisions.”

Some of that technology includes 3-D printed vascular flow models that are actual replications of a patient’s blood vessels. Doctors can practice on these models before a surgery. The JI also gives start-ups the ability to see prototypes deployed and tested for the first time. The models are also excellent educational and training tools. When I held a 3-D printed model of a patient’s heart the feeling was surreal.

“That particular heart model was made possible because of the clinical translational research team, comprised of the GVI, UB’s CTRC and the JI. We all worked together. That’s what the JI is all about,” said Marcucci.

Another simulation tool is the Mentice Endovascular Simulator. It is a full body mannequin that mimics a catheterization laboratory, where doctors can visualize vessels in the heart, brain, or other extremities and treat any stenosis or abnormality found, allowing physicians to learn how to perform these vascular procedures.

The JI’s Brain Boot Camp for middle and high school students has particular appeal to young people with an interest in medicine and medical technology. At Brain Boot Camps they learn about vascular illnesses and treatment, watch a pre-recorded medical procedure (if appropriate), tour the facility, and see a 3-D printed heart.

The culture and science of healthcare is evolving, and the Jacobs Institute and its partners in Buffalo are changing the face of medicine. To learn more about the Jacobs Institute, visit www.jacobsinstitute.org, or call 716-888-4800. You can also visit www.kaleidahealth.org/gvi/ to learn more about the Gates Vascular Institute.