BackTable / ENT / Podcast / Episode #84
Your Implant Robot: The Future of Robotic Assisted Surgery
with iotaMotion Founders Dr. Marlan Hansen and Dr. Christopher Kaufmann
In this crossover episode of BackTable, Dr. Eric Gantwerker interviews Dr. Chris Kaufmann and Dr. Marlan Hansen from the University of Iowa about their startup company, iotaMotion, which has developed the first FDA-approved robotic cochlear implant insertion system.
BackTable, LLC (Producer). (2023, January 10). Ep. 84 – Your Implant Robot: The Future of Robotic Assisted Surgery [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://www.backtable.com
Stay Up To Date
Dr. Marlan Hansen
Dr. Marlan Hanen is a clinician-scientist trained in neurotology/skull base surgery and cell and molecular biology. He is a Department Chair of Otolaryngology and a Professor of Neurosurgery and Molecular Physiology & Biophysics at the University of Iowa.
Dr. Christopher Kaufmann
Dr. Christopher Kaufmann was an Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery resident and NIH research fellow at the University of Iowa prior to leaving surgical training to join iotaMotion full time to lead product portfolio strategy and technology development.
Dr. Eric Gantwerker
Eric Gantwerker is a Pediatric Otolaryngologist at Cohen Children's Hospital at Northwell Health/Hofstra, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, and Vice President, Medical Director at Level Ex.
First, Dr. Kaufmann and Dr. Hansen speak about their backgrounds and interests in entrepreneurship and engineering along with their medical focus. As otolaryngologists, both wanted to find a way to improve cochlear implant insertion in order to preserve cochlea function and structure. Their device, iotaSOFT, robotically assists surgeons during implantation and minimizes the risk of advancing the implant too far within the cochlea. They emphasize that this is a tool to assist surgeons, not change the technique with which they operate. They also note that their primary motivation was to help patients, so they were more concerned about safety and effectiveness rather than market competition and monetization.
Then, they speak about the development path of their product and start up company. They filed for intellectual property rights under the University of Iowa and then formed a startup company that licensed the technology in order to commercialize the device. They discuss how they slowly added more employees and consultants to their company and set phases and goals for hiring and fundraising. Next, they explain challenges they had to overcome, such as the FDA approval process and COVID-19 setbacks on their clinical studies. They noted that iotaSOFT has received support from many surgeons once they understood that the robotic system merely assisted their surgeries without taking any control away from them.
Finally, they discuss future plans for iotaSOFT such as integrating it with other devices and developing it further to be able to reside in the cochlea with the implant.
Disclaimer: The Materials available on BackTable.com are for informational and educational purposes only and are not a substitute for the professional judgment of a healthcare professional in diagnosing and treating patients. The opinions expressed by participants of the BackTable Podcast belong solely to the participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views of BackTable.