The National Applied Research Laboratories (NARL) yesterday announced that the first 17 trainees in the Stanford-Taiwan Biomedical Fellowship Program (STB Program), a seven-year collaborative multidisciplinary training program, had completed their training.
The program, initiated by NARL after signing a memorandum of understanding with Stanford University in 2007, aims to train the next generation of innovators in medical technology and create an innovative medical technology platform to help the nation cope with an aging society and an increasing population with chronic diseases.
NARL said the nation’s research and development of medical equipment used to be dominated by engineers, leading to the problem of developers lacking long-term clinical observations and the development of equipment which did not “solve clinical needs.”
The program was created to give a select number of scientists the opportunity to receive direct supervision at Stanford’s Center of Cardiovascular Technology, attend courses and workshops in multiple disciplines — including bioengineering, business and medicine — and have an opportunity to learn about medical technology start-ups in California’s Bay Area.
On its fifth anniversary, NARL yesterday reported the initial results of the program.
Lin Bou-wen (林博文), director of NARL’s Science and Technology Policy Research and Information Center, said that of the 328 applicants for the program, most were physicians or researchers with doctoral degrees.
NARL plans for 41 more trainees to join the program, while 27 trainees have already been sent to the US in the past five years, Lin said, adding that 17 fellows have completed the training, and have established four research teams and four companies.
The research teams and companies are developing medical technology products such as treatment for sleep apnea, motion sensing rehabilitation equipment for households, portable and disposable catheters, as well as newly developed cardiac catheters.
However, NARL director Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) said it would still take a few year for the products designed by these groups to enter the market, and more effort would be needed to establish a certification platform at the Hsinchu Biomedical Science Park to certify the products.
Meanwhile, Mao Yen-chieh (毛彥傑), a professor at National Formosa University exhibited the iStrider, the product he and his team had developed during their participation in the program.
According to the foundation, the iStrider, a walking aid device, would be able to automatically adjust its flexibility and shock absorption, adding that the adjustments were mechanically made.
It does not need to be recharged, and can help those with difficulty of movement to interact and socialize with others normally, the foundation said.
According to Mao, the product would be entering the high-end medical product market soon, adding that he is already looking into the second generation of the product.
At the latest it would be released two years from now, Mao said, adding that he was focused on making the product lighter and more convenient for use.
Additional reporting by Jake Chung, with CNA