BNI residents partner with ASU law students to patent medical devices

Founded by Steven Lisa, a patent attorney whose father was treated for a deadly form of brain cancer at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center Barrow Neurological Institute, a grant was established for hospital residents to collaborate with Arizona State University law students to patent medical devices and further brain-spine research.

The Lisa Family Foundation Innovation Grant partners Barrow residents with ASU law students to streamline the process for patenting medical devices, according to a press release. A multi-year grant that supports residents’ research, three grants were awarded in 2015 to fund projects to advance neurosurgery in the world, test the efficacy of a wrist device for tracking patients’ progress after brain surgery and create a prototyping laboratory at Barrow for residents to design new medical devices, the release said.

“I’m so thankful to be able to connect brilliant minds from two separate institutions,” Mr. Lisa, who has law offices in Scottsdale and Chicago, said in a prepared statement. “It’s definitely a win-win for both groups, but the way it came together was fortuitous.”

The Barrow Innovation Center is a prototyping lab, proposed by Dr. Michael Bohl, equipped with 3D technology and machining tools for residents to design and build prototypes for new medical devices, according to the press release, noting the formal agreement allowing the ASU law students and faculty to act as legal counsel for St. Joseph’s Hospital and Barrow for drafting provisional patent applications.

To meet some of the challenges of bringing a new device to market for obtaining a patent for Food and Drug Administration approval, students and residents meet periodically to review and evaluate ideas. ASU students are supervised by licensed patent attorneys during the process. And, several lead neurosurgeons participate in the screening and brainstorming sessions attended by hospital residents working on new designs, the release said.

“My dad has received amazing care at Barrow, but what struck me in particular was the expertise and care of the neurosurgery residents,” Mr. Lisa said. “Ideas for medical devices were usually bottlenecked because it was so difficult to get through patenting. But, now we are eliminating the barriers.”


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