Penn State Engineering Startup Team ‘Medulate’ Wins $10,000 Prize for Innovative Surgical Simulators

Recently a new medical simulation startup company Medulate, co-founded by two Penn State Engineer Professors Scarlett Miller PhD in Human Factors and UX Design and Jason Moore PhD in Robotics and Tissue Modeling, won a top $10,000 prize at the “[email protected] College Fall’s Graduation Ceremony” from Ben Franklin Technology Partners. (Photo by Abby Drey of Centre Daily).

Abby Drey of Centre Daily Reports “Medulate grew out of research that Miller and Moore have been doing at Penn State “working on developing haptic, or touch-based, simulations for medical education” in order to reduce the learning curve for surgeons from practicing on static manikin-type devices to performing procedures on patients, Miller said. “We have the chance to actually change and save people’s lives through our products through the better, more effective and efficient training of surgeons,” she said.

“The TechCelerator this semester has an exceptional group of ‘townies,’ undergrads, grad students, and professors. Having a front row seat to see these new startups launch is really thrilling. On top of that, I get to work with some of the most inspiring economic development people I have ever met. Invent Penn State is a world class organization and I feel very lucky to be part of it,” Bob Dornich, director of the TechCelerator, said in the press release.


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Backed up by solid research, the co-founder have been published in the Journal of Surgical Research for “Evaluating surgical resident needle insertion skill gains in central venous catheterization training” and “Investigating the Effect of Simulator Functional Fidelity and Personalized Feedback on Central Venous Catheterization Training” and “Training Surgical Residents With a Haptic Robotic Central Venous Catheterization Simulator” from the Journal of Surgical Education.

Medulate Wants to Be Different:

  • Realistic Medical Simulations: Medulate’s simulations provide training on a variety of patient scenario using haptic force modeling
  • Personalized Learning: These training system provide personalized feedback through our user interface to tailor training.
  • Objective Skill Assessments: Their programs provides automated skill assessment that can be used to identify skill proficiency.

Penn State News Covers the Duo and their Innovative But Affordable Technologies


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Penn State News also recently reported on Medulate’s success: “Administering needle-based procedures in anesthesiology, such as epidurals, is a complex and delicate procedure and the current training methods for doctors are costly and fall short in preparing them for every patient and situation they will face. A new provisional patent from the Penn State College of Engineering plans to change that.

The haptic-force needle-insertion simulator, created by a team of researchers led by Jason Moore, associate professor of mechanical engineering, is a low-cost, hand-held device that simulates the tactic feeling of the instrument passing through several layers of tissue. It also connects to a computer program that can assess the user’s performance. These factors are crucial because the doctor’s hands need to produce a steady rate of insertion, which can be challenging. “There’s a buildup of force upon tissue deflection and a sudden release of force upon tissue puncture,” Moore said. “This training tool can help surgeons, residents and med students improve their dexterous abilities.”

“Being unprepared for diverse patient scenarios can increase the probability of complications occurring, and this training will help the doctor’s ability to adapt,” Moore said. Eventually, this tool could be adapted to train doctors in other specialties like emergency medicine, radiology and surgery. “This project has the potential to revolutionize training on surgical procedures,” said Scarlett Miller, associate professor of engineering design and industrial engineering, Penn State.

The rest of the team is also confident their device will make an impact, especially as it represents a low-cost method to this common problem. “We’re really excited because the device is slated be relatively low cost, less than $100,” Moore said. “I would love to see this widely applied, all the way down to undergraduate pre-med programs. It could be impactful to easily assess this skill and provide meaningful feedback to allow for continuous improvement.”

Learn more and follow along on the new Medulate Website!


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