New interdisciplinary Yale center aims to spur medical device innovation

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(Illustration by Michael S. Helfenbein)

Blood banks, stethoscopes, and dialysis machines are all the result of doctors who were dissatisfied with the technology available to them. Doctors and nurses continue to think about how they can improve aspects of medical technology today. The Yale Center for Biomedical and Interventional Technology (CBIT), a new interdisciplinary design venture, aims to provide an outlet for clinicians at Yale to independently turn their ideas into blockbuster products.

CBIT-hosted events

CBIT is sponsoring two upcoming events to promote biomedical entrepreneurship at Yale.

On Friday, Sept. 19, Robert Langer, one of the world’s most prolific biomedical innovators, will give a talk, “Creating and implementing breakthrough technologies,” in the Cohen Auditorium at the Child Study Center at 10 a.m. Registration is required.

From Oct. 10 to 12, CBIT will present Hacking Health@Yale, organized by the Innovation in Medicine Club. The hackathon will bring together students and mentors from across Yale for a weekend of brainstorming, making plans, and devising prototypes. Awards will be given in categories including affordable technology, public health, and novel approaches. For more information visit

“Yale clinicians and students are an untapped resource. I am confident that there is a sea of creative ideas floating around campus — the next big success could be one of them, but without a path by which to vet and support ideas, we will never know,” said Dr. Peter Schulam, chair of the Department of Urology at Yale School of Medicine, and chief of urology at Yale-New Haven Hospital, who is one of the faculty members spearheading this effort.

One collaborative space

Chemical engineer Christopher Loose, a co-founder of Semprus BioSciences, was recently named as CBIT’s first executive director. (See related story, below.) The center’s goal is to bring the wealth of medical, design, and business resources from Yale and Connecticut-based businesses and other universities into one collaborative space. There, students, clinicians, and business representatives can test new ideas and translate them into successful commercial products. At Yale alone, the School of Engineering & Applied Science, the Center for Engineering Innovation & Design, the Office of Cooperative Research, and the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute are just some of the groups that will likely be involved.

In addition to commercializing these new technologies, CBIT will benefit interdisciplinary education at Yale., said Mark Saltzman, the Goizueta Foundation Professor and chair of biomedical engineering. Medical and engineering graduate students will have more opportunities to become involved in translational and device-oriented research at Yale. These experiences can help prepare students for alternative careers outside of academia, he said.

Learning the practical side of medicine

Richard Fan, a former postdoctoral associate at Yale, can attest to the benefits of centers like CBIT in graduate education. Fan completed his doctoral work under Schulam’s guidance when both were at the University of California-Los Angeles. Fan and Schulam were involved in UCLA’s Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology (CASIT), a center similar to CBIT.

“I think the opportunities provided in an environment like CASIT were hugely beneficial to my training as a ‘translational engineer.’ It forced engineering graduate students to learn about the practical side of medicine and to function in both an academic and professional environment,” said Fan, who added that working in a collaborative environment ensured that he learned from peers and established strong one-on-one relationships.

“The educational benefits of a center like CBIT are not limited to engineering and medicine. Working with the School of Management and the Law School will help in the commercialization process while providing management and law students with real-world examples and experience,” added Schulam.

Connecting the research, medical, and business sides of developing medical devices will also help spur more New Haven-based medical companies, according to Saltzman, who hopes that CBIT will ensure more students stay in Connecticut after graduation. 

CBIT’s formation has been met with enthusiastic support across Yale, and initial funding for the center has been obtained. Moving forward, Schulam, Saltzman, and Loose are establishing and staffing a physical space on the medical campus.

Medical innovator Christopher Loose named head of CBIT

Christopher Loose has been named the first executive director of Yale’s Center for Biomedical and Interventional Technology (CBIT), which was formed earlier this year to foster biomedical innovations.

Loose received his doctorate in chemical engineering from MIT, where he co-founded Semprus BioSciences and brought to market a vascular catheter designed to reduce blood clots.


Christopher Loose
brings together engineers, clinicians, scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Its overall mission “is to catalyze biomedical innovation at Yale,” said Loose, who assumed his post on June 1. “Our goal is to educate and support biomedical leaders with the skills to lead cross-functional teams in developing technologies to reduce healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes.”

Joining Loose at CBIT as engineering director is Jean Zheng, who earned a doctorate in mechanical engineering at Yale in 2013.

“We are very fortunate to have recruited Chris as the executive director for CBIT,” said Dr. Peter Schulam, chair of urology, and co-founder of CBIT. “He is uniquely positioned to lead CBIT, having successfully co-founded and sold a medical device company and having brought a new product to market. Working with many of Yale’s established innovation and entrepreneurial programs, I believe Chris will be successful in catalyzing biomedical commercialization across the Yale University community.”

“Chris is exceptionally well-prepared to help us advance CBIT as one of the nation’s premier centers for medical device technology,” said W. Mark Saltzman, chair of biomedical engineering, the Goizueta Foundation Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, and a co-founder of CBIT. “Chris is a creative engineer, as well as an experienced entrepreneur, and these twin talents are just what we need to make CBIT a success.”

(Image via Shutterstock)

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