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Surgical Innovations »  Spotlight »  Innovator Profiles »  Matthew Lin, M.D.

Innovator Q&A: Matthew Lin, M.D.

Matthew Lin - 144px

Matthew Lin, M.D., is Assistant Professor of Surgery at UCSF. He received his M.D. from UCLA School of Medicine followed by a general surgery residency at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and minimally invasive and bariatric surgery at UCSF. His retractor device received funding through the Surgical Innovations Spring 2015 Accelerator.

Tell me about a device you're working on and the problem you're trying to address.

I’m working on an articulating endoscopic retractor that is compatible with current endoscopes. This instrument will allow us to triangulate tissue dissection and provide better visualization during the procedure. The articulating joints allows us to move the target tissue in different directions. This will allow us to perform more complex surgical endoscopy cases without having to make an incision! 

How did you get the idea for it?

Our Minimally Invasive Surgery group saw a need for this type of instrument as we performed more and more advanced surgical endoscopy procedures. We realized that current instruments have limited degrees of freedom to grasp tissue for dissection and visualization. The team began utilizing our experience in robotic and laparoscopic surgery to help design this instruments. The experience of Drs. Stan Rogers, John Cello, and Carter Lebares has been invaluable, since they have high volume surgical endoscopy practices.

How did you become convinced you should pursue it?

This was originally just an idea that we discussed amongst ourselves. We were invited to present it at a weekly Surgical Innovations meeting led by Drs. Michael Harrison and Hanmin Lee. The engineers in the group were excited and thought it was feasible to pursue. The group’s engineers were simply amazing and were able to sketch out a plan within a week. 

How does your identity as a clinician influence your ability to innovate?

As clinicians we try to tailor each therapy to the individual patient. The more patients we see, the more we learn about how we can improve our treatment and technical skills. This leads to a wealth of ideas that needs to be tested out. 

What's your ultimate vision/hope for your technology?

That it would stimulate other ideas and bring more stakeholders into the fold to help further the possibilities of surgical endoscopy. 

What's the most helpful advice you received along the way?

Keep going no matter how daunting the task may seem. Surgical Innovations has so many team members and resources to help troubleshoot any problem whether it is the business plan or engineering details, amongst other things. 

What advice would you give someone like yourself who is just starting down the path?

All it takes is an idea no matter how small or big. This is more of a hobby than a job. Have fun with the process and see where the innovation journey takes you. 

What's been the hardest thing about the innovation process?

Learning about business models and how patent laws work. 

What's been the most rewarding part? 

The most rewarding part is meeting all the talented folks along the way who share the same enthusiasm. I love our collegial team environment.

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