MADISON (WKOW) -- Thanks to new funding at UW, doctors will be able to have some everyday wishes granted. Engineers and students are working on prototypes for medical innovations that doctors have said they are lacking in their practice. The UW Department of Emergency Medicine is teaming up with UW's Morgridge Advanced Fabrication Lab or "Fab Lab" to improve these medical tools, which could improve your time in the hospital.
The founders of The BerbeeWalsh Foundation, Dr. Jim Berbee and his wife Karen Walsh, are the donors behind the gift. After their success with engineers and students at the Fab Lab creating an update version of the otoscope, they wanted to give other doctors a chance to weigh in on more advancements.
"We've been able to develop a technique with a very small end on the otoscope... that gives you a much better look at the inside of the ear," says Dr. Berbee.
Inspired by that success, Dr. Berbee and his wife donated $300,000 over a five-year period to create prototypes of more high-need ideas for doctors.
"We really are trying to understand what the problems in the clinic are," says Kevin Elisceiri, Director of Medical Engineering at Morgridge Institute for Research. "What are problems where technologies right now that we have could be adapted or could be deployed."
Since UW Health is one of the leaders in transplant surgery, the first project they're tackling is a device to prep organs. Doctors and engineers explain that an organ is kept cool for surgery prep right now, mainly by ice. By placing it in the Fab Lab's organ cooler, they can better control the temperature.
Students will be working alongside engineers full time on the project. "We can design solutions that tackle the problems that we face every single day and just really change the way we interact in this world," says Annie Yang, a biomedical engineering student at UW.
The device's impact could go far beyond Madison; there are more than 120,000 people in the U.S. in need of a transplant. "We're very excited about the possibilities," says Berbee.
Students and engineers hope to have organ cooling in testing by winter and a refined prototype by spring. Since the gift is over a five-year period, there will likely be other medical advancements too.