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Hopkins Medicine Magazine - Biomedical Wizards

Hopkins Medicine Spring/Summer 2013

Biomedical Wizards

Date: June 7, 2013

Hien Nguyen
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Hien Nguyen

By devising new ways to ensure the steady beating of a patient’s heart, defining the future of the suture, and reinventing radiation therapy, three Hopkins faculty have so impressed philanthropists and investors that they’ve won grants of $50,000 each to advance their ongoing biomedical wizardry. 

The grants were awarded last winter during the annual joint meeting of the Johns Hopkins Alliance for Science and Technology Development and the University of Maryland’s Baltimore Commercial Advisory Board—a gathering attended by more than 150 venture capitalists, seasoned biotech entrepreneurs, and biopharma industry business development executives.

Ronald Berger, professor of medicine and biomedical engineering, received his grant from the Abell Foundation. Berger has led research that found a kinder, gentler way to halt ventricular fibrillation by using a high-frequency alternating current for about one-third of a second, rather than the high-voltage, sometimes painful shock employed by standard cardiac defibrillators. The Abell award will help Berger and his team develop advanced defibrillation technology based on this research. Berger holds more than 20 patents in the fields of arrhythmia detection, catheter ablation, defibrillation, and CPR—and also has been co-founder of three medical device companies. 

Hien Nguyen, assistant professor of surgery, director of the Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Hernia Center, and associate medical director of the Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design (CBID), received his grant from BioMaryland LIFE, a philanthropy jointly funded by the Maryland Biotechnology Center, Hopkins, and the University of Maryland. 

Nguyen’s funding will allow him to continue the development of FastStitch, a disposable suturing tool that guides the even placement of stitches and guards against the accidental puncture of internal organs. The device can close the muscle layers of the chest and abdomen in a way that allows surgeons more precision and consistency while requiring less time and resources.

John Wong, professor of radiation oncology and director of the Division of Medical Physics, received his grant from the Abell Foundation. He will use the funding to continue developing technology that will aid in the safer delivery of radiation therapy.

Wong received recognition for three of his inventions: The Active Breathing Coordinator (ABC™), now used worldwide by radiation oncologists, assists patients in holding a volume of breath, which allows for more accurate images and less irradiation of healthy tissues. Elekta Synergy® uses a cone-shaped beam of X-rays to create a 3-D view of the target area, capturing the images in a single, one-minute revolution. Soft tissue tumors can be identified without the need for implanting markers, and radiologists can position the beam more accurately on the target area. SARRP is a scaled-down version of Synergy® that can be used to treat mice, providing a powerful tool to study focal radiation of the tumor and organ system of these laboratory animals. NAG

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