2023/01/20 | Events | Robotics

Symposium marks ARTORG's 15th anniversary

In 2023 the ARTORG Center celebrates 15 years since its inception. The start of this anniversary year was marked on 17 January by a Scientific Symposium with the participation of the University Rector Christian Leumann, the Dean of the Medical Faculty Claudio Bassetti, and all twelve ARTORG research groups. Four keynotes by the new members of the ARTORG Scientific Advisory Board were the highlights of the event. The symposium was a great opportunity for all ARTORG members to get an overview of the other research areas, to exchange informally about methods and projects during the coffee breaks and Apéro, and to develop a vision for ARTORG’s coming years.

In his welcome address to the high-caliber scientific event, the Rector Prof. Dr. Christian Leumann outlined the origins of the ARTORG Center as a strategic Center of Competence of the University of Bern in 2008. He emphasized the commitment of the University to excellence in biomedical engineering research and teaching that was manifested in many translational successes of the ARTORG during 15 years and is being reaffirmed by the University’s recent

alliances with other European Universities distinguished in this field among others. He expressed confidence that in the coming 15 years, many groundbreaking innovations will emerge from the center and invited those present to “celebrate ARTORG”.

Prof. Dr. Claudio Bassetti, Dean of the Medical Faculty, stressed the pioneering character of ARTORG’s embedding in a medical faculty at its inception which still represents an important differentiator of its research and teaching quality today. 15 years later, the Center was a vibrant, successful, and international environment with many interdisciplinary opportunities to develop user-friendly state-of-the art medical technology, he said. In recognition of achieved successes but also as a roadmap for the future, the medical faculty had decided

to define medical technology and the areas of digital medicine, Artificial Intelligence, and data science as pillars of its strategy 2030. He thanked ARTORG members for their important contribution to the very good international and national rankings of the medical faculty in recent years.

In his introduction, ARTORG Director Raphael Sznitman offered a science output and person-based overview over the ARTORG’s history, stressing translational successes through tailor-made biomedical engineering solutions that are already impacting patient care. He mentioned important milestones such as several start-up spin-offs and the exceptional triple win of the highest recognition in Swiss Medical Technology (Medtech award) in ten years which is unique to the ARTORG. He also underlined the favorable innovation

environment in Bern with the inauguration and partial move of the ARTORG to sitem-insel and the critical mass for innovative performance since ARTORG’s merger with the Swiss Institute for Surgical Technology and Biomechanics (ISTB) in 2019.

Scientific highlight of the Symposium were four keynotes by new members of the ARTORG Center Scientific Advisory Board. Prof. Dr. Nassir Navab, Director of the Laboratories for Computer Aided Medical Procedures at Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany, and an adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins University, US, opened the scientific discussion with a keynote on “AI4CAI: Semantic Scene Graphs for OR Domain Modeling”. Prof. Navab stressed how important it is for Artificial Intelligence models to understand the surgical workflow and interactions in OR between the surgeon, staff and medical devices in order to optimize the integration of the novel technologies into OR, illustrating the AI-based modeling of OR domain with several real-case examples. After ARTORG group presentations, Prof. Dr. Elena De Momi, co-founder of the Neuroengineering and Medical Robotics Laboratory at the Electronic Information and Bioengineering Department of Politecnico di Milano, Italy, followed with a keynote on “Knowledge transfer from the human expert to the robotic assistant in the surgical domain”. Prof. De Momi introduced a human-centered approach to robotics in surgical interventions from shared tasks with the surgeon to true autonomy.

With her background in analytical chemistry, the lung-on-chip pioneer Prof. Dr. Sabeth Verpoorte, microfluidics and miniaturized «lab-on-a-chip» systems in the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Groningen, Netherlands, provided a different angle in a keynote entitled “Reading out organ-on-a-chip systems”. Prof. Verpoorte highlighted the great potentials of organ-on-chip systems to model diseases, extract physiological biomarkers, and perform dosing experiments in a controlled life-like microenvironment. She emphasized the added value of the use of chemical analysis technologies for real-time quantitative characterization of the behaviour of organ-on-a-chip systems. A much more “big picture”-look was offered by Prof. Dr. Pascal Verdonck, full professor of medical technology at Ghent University, Belgium and visiting professor at the KULeuven and Vlerick Business School. With a very versatile professional background, Prof. Verdonck offered an inspiring outlook into what engineers can do for a paradigm shift towards value-based and patient-centered healthcare through automatization, mobile technology, and data sciences in his keynote “An engineering look at our healthcare».

The ARTORG Center Scientific Seminar was attended by more than 130 ARTORG members and held in a very collegial atmosphere in which open science and discussion were highlighted. Before the background of great ongoing changes towards data-driven patient-centered healthcare, biomedical engineering will play a crucial role in transforming medical care and the healthcare system according to the formula – as Prof. Verdonck put it - “The future value is innovation to the power of data.”