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A Doctor's Design Playground for Medical Innovation: Taipei Tech's MD-PhD Program

July 2014
By Kimberly Lee

Cane with adjustable lengths

Since its establishment in 1912, Taipei Tech (National Taipei University of Technology) has long placed equal emphasis on academic research and hands-on practice. In recent years, with close and solid industry-university collaborations, Taipei Tech has dedicated a considerable amount of effort in nurturing great minds with innovative ideas in the field of applied medical technology. The initiation of the Doctorate of Medicine and of Philosophy (MD-PhD) is a case in point.

In many instances, improvements to medical devices are released with slight changes, such as exterior modification or minor error fixes, while developmental breakthroughs are seldom reached. Professional experiences of doctors are imperative to meeting the needs of patients when it comes to the study of medical technology. There remains much room for improvement in the field of medical instrument research in terms of practicability. Taipei Tech’s MD-PhD emphasizes that doctors in the program are offered basic concepts of industrial design and engineering. They provide feedback on the ineffectiveness of any device from clinical trials to skilled research fellows who has the right expertise. The program has the potential of merging medical studies and engineering in the future.

Testing cane with adjustable lengths

Professor Jung Tang Huang, one of the driving forces behind Taipei Tech’s MD-PhD, urges doctors who are interested in developing medical devises to join this program so that they can utilize their pre-existing expertise into making better, much refined or even revolutionary medical equipments that can be turned into business opportunities that brings hope and easier access to numerous patients.

The MD-PhD program is run by Taipei Tech’s College of Mechanical & Electrical Engineering in collaboration with Shuang Ho Hospital, Mackay Memorial Hospital, Taipei Medical University Hospital as well as the National Defense Medical Center. Since the emphasis of this program is clinical practice and experience, doctors who wish to join the program are not required to have master degrees. Taipei Tech encourages and welcomes doctors who embrace this challenge in the field of industrial engineering.

The MD-PhD program courses are exciting with rewarding research results that have already attracted attention from many industry and investment companies. Doctor Pei Hao Chen, also a student of the MD-PhD program, from Mackay Memorial Hospital developed a cane with adjustable lengths that can be lengthened or shortened according to the user’s needs. The user-friendly function is very helpful for patients with Parkinson’s Disease particularly since their deteriorating central nervous system results in poor muscle control and equilibrium. The adjustable length prevents them from tripping. This example shows that given doctors’ clinical experience and familiarity with medical devices, problems in existing medical devices can be more accurately identified, improvements efficiently carried out, and new models put into production.

In the future, Taipei Tech’s MD-PhD program will incorporate more diverse and flexible source materials that enable innovation and development. Ultimately, more resources and match-making with the industry is needed so as to achieve the goal of materializing innovative ideas into empowering medical instruments that can aid those in need.

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