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Dr. Simaan organized a whole day workshop on robotics for health-care in collaboration with ME faculty Dr. Webster, Goldfarb, Sarkar, Barth and Dr. Stacy Gardener with the Vanderbilt Program for Talented Youth (PTY). The whole day even was hosted by five mechanical engineering labs (see the participating labs, workshop agenda and pictures HERE). The workshop included 64 high school and middle school participants and their parents. Students and their parents got a hands-on experience with technologies developed for surgical assistance, MRI-compatible robots, rehabilitation devices and robotic orthoses, and human-robot interaction.


Sam Bhattacharyya joined A.R.M.A. in the fall semester of 2010. Sam previously worked at A.R.M.A. in 2008 as an undergraduate researcher at Columbia University. He received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University in 2010. He is now a research assistant at A.R.M.A. pursuing his MS/Ph. D. degree in Mechanical Engineering at Vanderbilt University.

Haoran Yu joined A.R.M.A. in the Fall semester of 2010. Haoran received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Tsinghua University, China. He is a Teaching Assistant at the Department of Mechanical Engineering and pursuing his MS/Ph. D. degree at Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Alessio Salerno left ARMA in December 15, 2007. He left ARMA to join the Canadian Space Agency where he has joined their space-robotics effort. ARMA members express their gratitude for his hard work during the period he served as a post-doc in the lab. Below is a picture of Alessio's farewell party.

Good luck Alessio :-)

Jian has finished his Ph.D. and reserach work at ARMA and immediately joined Intuitive Surgical. Congratulations Jian !

Siemens Science Day 2007

Lab members Wei Wei and Kai Xu participated as instructors in Columbia University's collaborative Siemens Science Day. Columbia hosted more than 1300 students and parents with workshops promoting math and science education. The ARMA Lab demonstrated surgical robotics by allowing the students to practice in a mock robotic surgical setup. Below, Wei Wei looks on as a student attemps a robotic maneuver.

Columbia News Article: Siemens Science Day, October 24, 2007

In June 2010 the NIH published an article about our ongoing project on designing future generation technology for single port access surgery. The article can be access HERE.

Professors Nabil Simaan (ME Department) and Peter Allen (CS Department) recently recieved an NIH grant together with Dennis Fowler. This $1.2M 3-year NIH grant is titled “Image Guided In Vivo Tooling Platform for Minimal Access Surgery”.The goal of the grant is to support research on novel image-guidded robotic-assisted surgical approaches to Less Invasive Surgery (LIS). This research project will study the design, telemanipulation control, image-guidasnce, and the efficacy of of novel flexible snake-like robots for single-port surgery.

The preliminary work for this project was carried out at ARMA with the participation of Ph.D. student Kai Xu.

Wei Wei and Jian Zhang: Two more Ph.D. graduates join the ARMA Alumni

Dr. Wei Wei and Dr. Jian Zhang graduated with destinction. They join Dr. Kai Xu to make the group of the first Ph.D. students to graduate from ARMA. Due to the tremendous talents and effort Wei, Jian, and Kai distinguished themselves through quality publications. Below are some pictures from 2010 May 14 convocation. Congratulations Drs Wei Wei & Jian Zhang.



On June 5th, 2007 the New York Times Science section published a graphic highlighting novel directions in medical robotics. The snake-like robots for throat surgery (developed at ARMA in collaboration with JHU) were featured among other works from Carnegie Mellon and Johns Hopkins University.


Dr. Kai Xu passed his thesis defense exam on 8/5/2009. His thesis exam committee included his advisor Professor Nabil Simaan as well as Professor Richard Longman. Professor Peter Allen from the department of Computer Science and Dr. Dennis Fowler from the Department of Surgery.

Kai's picture with his Ph.D. dissertation committee.
From Left to right: Dr. Allen, Dr. Simaan, Kai (now Dr. Xu :-)), Dr. Longman, Dr. Fowler, Dr. Kysar

His thesis titled "“Design, Modeling and Analysis of Continuum Robots as Surgical Assistants with Intrinsic Sensory Capabilities” included a thorough study of the experimental and the theoretical aspects of flexible continuum robots for surgical applications.

Dr. Xu was unianimously nominated for an Award of Distinction by his thesis exam committee for a thesis that is uniquely outstanding in its breadth, depth, originality, and rigor.

On August 21, 2009, Dr. Xu will leave ARMA to join as an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiaotong Joint Institute.

ARMA members wished Kai the best of luck pursuing his future career in a farewell party. Here are some pictures:

Professors Nabil Simaan (PI) and Professor Spiros Manolidis M.D. (Co-PI) received a 3-year NSF grant titled  “Study of Robot-Assisted Cochlear Implant Insertion and Active-Bending Electrode Arrays”. This $330,000 grant will support research on novel robotic-assisted surgical approaches to cochlear implant surgery. The project will focus on surgical assistance using steerable electrode arrays that were developed at ARMA laboratory. The project will study control strategies and path planning for these under-actuated electrodes, design and construction of robotic electrode insertion devices, and evaluation of intracochlear trauma during electrode insertion. The eventual goal of this project is a smart table-top tele-robotic system that will be used to evaluate the different electrode insertion strategies on the reduction of intracochlear trauma. .

This inter-disciplinary project is an ongoing collaboration between ARMA laboratory and Dr. Spiros Manolidis (an Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery and the Director of Otology & Skull Base Surgery at Columbia University). Dr. Manolidis is a Co-PI responsible for overseeing the clinical aspects of this project. In addition, Dr. John T. Roland of the department of Otolaryngology and Neurosurgery at New York University School of Medicine is serving as an additional clinical consultant for this project.

The preliminary work for this project was carried out at ARMA with the participation of Ph.D. students Jian Zhang and Kai Xu.

In February 26 2009 the NSF has funded Dr. Simaan's Career grant. This 5-year grant aims at designing new algorithms and continuum robots for safe interaction with the anatomy. A description of the project is available HERE.

Jian Zhang, (Ph.D. student at ARMA – Advanced Robotics and Mechanisms Applications laboratory) won the Best Student Paper award for Clinical Applications category in MICCAI2006. MICCAI (Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention) is the premier international medical robotics conference held annually.

578 papers were submitted to MICCAI out of which only 39 were accepted for a full length presentation and 139 were accepted for poster presentation. Jian’s paper was one of the 39 papers accepted for full length presentation. About 80 international papers participated in the best student paper competitions based on reviewer’s nominations and 5 papers were given awards in 5 categories including the clinical applications category that Jian won.

The paper is titled "A Pilot Study of Robot-Assisted Cochlear Implant Surgery Using Steerable Electrode Arrays" by Jian Zhang, Kai Xu, Dr. Nabil Simaan and Dr. Spiros Manolidis is an ongoing collaboration between ARMA and the medical school (Dr. Spiros Manolidis is at the department of Otolaryngology- Head & Neck Surgery at Columbia University).

February 25 2009: Kai Xu wins the China Scholarship Award: Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self Financed Graduate Students Abroad. Congratulations Kai.

Second integration experiments of the System for Minimally Insvasive Surgery of the upper Airways

Kai Xu1, Wei Wei1, Ankur Kapoor2, Peter Kazanzides2, Nabil Simaan1, Russell Taylor2, Paul Flint3

1 ARMA - Columbia University
2 CISST-ERC Johns Hopkins University
3 Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

In June 2006 we conducted the second integration experiments using a new 5 DoF Modular Snake Like-Device for throat surgery. This work is being done in collaboration with Johns Hopkins ERC-CISST and Johns Hopkins Otlaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Click on the picture below to watch the most recent movie of this snake-like device. It may take few moments to download, but it is worth it :-) . The experiments were conducted by Kai Xu and Wei Wei from ARMA and Ankr Kapoor from ERC-CISST.

February 25 2009: Jian Zhan recieves IEEE ICRA Travel award. Congratulations Jian.

On December 20-23rd, 2005, Kai Xu visited the ERC-CISST at Johns Hopkins University where he conducted integration experiments together with Ankur Kapoor and Professor R. Taylor. Integration of our first prototype of the snake-like robot with a detachable parallel tip and a gripper together with a 6 DoF LARS robot and a DaVinci master console was successful in demonstrating basic suturing capabilities. Below you can see some updated pictures of the system. A major part of the integration was carried by Ankur Kapoor who programmed the DaVinci master console.

7 DOF LARS robot with the 2-stage snake robot and a micro-surgical gripper

Micro-surgical gripper and a parallel micro-robot  installed on the snake-robot

Kai Xu at master console (Also check CISST-web page for possible pictures/movies and Ankur Kapoor web page)

Dr. Jienan (Jayson) Ding joined ARMA lab in June 2008 as a post-doctoral scientist with a primary appointmet in the department of Surgery. Dr. Ding recieved his Ph.D. from Tianjin Universiuty in 2008. His research is focused on the NIH-funded project titled "Image Guided In Vivo Tooling Platform for Minimal Access Surgery". See the following link for description of the project.

The Advanced Robotics and Mechanism Applications Laboratory joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Vanderbilt University in the Fall of 2010. The laboratory is now located in Olin Hall, fourth floor, room 407. We have got windows! :-)


Welcome Youhua

Dr. Youhua Chen joined ARMA lab on March 15 2008 as a post-doctoral scientist. His research is focused on the design, control, and automation scheduling of an autonomous automation system for high-throughput biodosimetry. See the Biodosimetry Project description for detail.

From June 17th to 19th, Prof. Simaan and Ph.D student Kai Xu attended the ERC-CISST NSF Site Visit at Johns Hopkins University where they presented the ongoing development of their prototype of the dexterous robot for throat surgery.