Smart catheter funded for commercialization at NCSU - Small Times
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Smart catheter funded for commercialization at NCSU

February 18, 2011 -- A North Carolina State University endowment fund established to bridge pure research and product commercialization for entrepreneurs has awarded a $10k grant to a biomedical engineering project that will use MEMS to make catheters flexible, then stiff, for stent delivery.

The Richard L. and Marlene V. Daugherty Centennial Campus Entrepreneurialism Endowment has awarded the grant to a partnership between a NC State assistant professor in biomedical engineering and a Raleigh cardiologist. Drs. Glenn Walker and Ravish Sachar are planning to use their $10,000 award to develop a prototype for a 'smart' catheter.

Currently, catheters used by cardiologists do not offer enough flexibility and strength at the same time. Thus, physicians must use a combination of techniques to expertly place a catheter in the human body in order to successfully treat a clogged artery.

To overcome this problem, Walker, an assistant professor in NC State University’s department of biomedical engineering, and Sachar, a cardiologist with Wake Heart and Vascular Associates, teamed up to develop and commercialize a smart catheter that can be both flexible and strong. The catheter uses micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) technology to electronically modulate catheter stiffness. It will be flexible enough to be maneuvered through winding blood vessels and positioned near the affected area, but it can also be stiffened to allow the delivery of a stent to the lesion site. This reduces the chances of injury to the patient during the procedure by reducing the number of catheters and guide wires that must be used.

The endowment is named after the retired IBM executive who ran the company's RTP operations for 23 years, and his wife. Daugherty is a trustee of the Kenan Institute at NC State, as well as a board member for NC State's Entrepreneurship Initiative. Daugherty was also Director of the Research Corporation for NC State's Centennial Campus and board member of Progress Energy. He received the North Carolina Public Service Award in 1991 and the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s A.E. Finley Award in 1994.

Centennial Campus is a research park and technology campus owned and operated by North Carolina University. Home to more than 60 corporate, government and non-profit partners, such as Red Hat, ABB, and the USDA, collaborative research projects vary from nanofibers and secure open systems technology to serious gaming and biomedical engineering. Four university college programs also have a significant presence on campus – College of Engineering, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Textiles and the College of Education. Learn more at

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