McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

McMaster medical resident invents surgical instrument

By Sue Johnston
Faculty of Health Sciences

Published: March 13, 2007
Dr. Margherita Cadeddu (left), assistant professor in the Department of Surgery, works with McMaster medical resident Dr. Adam Power (right) as he experiments with a surgical instrument he invented and has tested as part of his research program.

A prototype surgical device that was created and tested by a McMaster University surgical resident is making waves in the business community of London, England.

The instrument, which would be used in minimally invasive surgery, is the first product of RemRom Medical Devices, a company founded by Dr. Adam Power, who is currently on leave from the McMaster residency program as he studies for his master’s degree in bioscience enterprise at the University of Cambridge.

RemRom recently emerged as one of two runners-up in a high-level competition of entrepreneurial business ideas judged by a panel of British business luminaries, including tycoon Peter Jones, a multi-millionaire entrepreneur known for his participation in the hit BBC show Dragon’s Den.

The competition featured the top three business ideas of students from the University of Cambridge and the top three from Oxford University vying for about $20,000 in prizes in the first-ever event of this type between the two venerable schools. The students presenting the ideas had just two minutes to make their pitches to the panel that included business executives as well as venture capitalists. Power and his business development manager Kyle Coveny made the elevator-style pitch on behalf of a team of four students. 

The Oxford-Cambridge competition was reported on CNN, and was taped for future airing on the planned reality TV show called Tycoon – a nationwide search for people with killer ideas that Peter Jones can help turn into profit-making companies.

RemRom Medical Devices made it into the elite competition after being chosen one of the top three of 86 contenders from the University of Cambridge. Through the two competitions, Power has been awarded about $8,000 to be used by his company.

Despite the excitement generated by his success in England, Power, who grew up in New Brunswick, is not considering a career change, and he is anxious to return to his residency at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine later this year.

"I can’t wait to return to my residency," he said. "I miss the operating room and the patient contact terribly. My passion is for surgery and that is something I always hope to be involved with."

Power speaks highly of McMaster’s support of his education and research pursuits related to RemRom Medical Devices. A grant from McMaster’s Resident Research Fund allowed him to pursue research of the surgical instrument that led to the birth of the company.

The instrument is an innovative device that expands the abdominal cavity for a new type of minimally invasive surgery, called natural orifice surgery. The collapsible metallic device is attached to an endoscope, inserted through the patient’s mouth, than expands once inside the abdominal cavity. It lifts the abdominal wall allowing surgeons to better see as they perform minimally invasive surgery, such as gall bladder or appendix removals, without the need for incisions. Currently surgeons performing this type of surgery inflate the abdominal cavity with gas. However, the gas cannot always keep the abdominal walls from caving in on the operative site, and the gas itself creates post-operative pain and other problems.

Power’s device has been patented in both the U.K. and the United States.

Power, 29, explained that he and his twin brother Nicholas came up with the idea for the device in the summer of 2004, just after they had both completed the MD program at Dalhousie University, and before they each started their residencies. They filed a patent and developed a prototype, which was then tested at both McMaster and Dalhousie University. Power’s twin brother is in the midst of a urology residency at Dalhousie.

When he returns to McMaster in August, Power will continue his research on the prototype, while his business partners in the U.K. work towards raising the necessary capital to get the company off the ground in England.

Power, who also has a B.Sc. in biochemistry from the University of New Brunswick, explained that he chose to take a sabbatical from his medical training to pursue the master’s program at Cambridge, because he wants to help bridge the gap between physician innovation and industry.

"I find that residents and physicians are in a unique position to come up with innovative ideas because they are on the front lines of medical practice, using instruments and medical devices that often need improvement," he said. "I don’t know how many times I have heard one of my colleagues come up with a great idea, only to have it soon forgotten because they are either too busy to pursue it or don’t know where to begin."

He decided to "push pause" in his medical residency to attend the world-renowned Cambridge business school and learn more about the innovation process. He hopes this training will enable him to help colleagues turn their ideas into practice.

"I think there is room for more awareness about the industries that help us to treat our patients," he said. "It is beneficial to see things from their perspective, especially if you want to have your ideas as a physician translated into better patient care. Good ideas can’t help anyone if they are not sustainable in the marketplace."

A fellowship funded by Charles and Margaret Juravinski made it possible for Power to pursue the Master’s program.

He has three more years of training in the general surgery residency. Once completed, he hopes to obtain a fellowship, possibly in vascular surgery, and hopefully in Hamilton.

"I love Hamilton and McMaster and I would love to eventually work in Hamilton as a staff surgeon."

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