Fall Seminar – Jonathan Sorger, PhD
to be led by:
Vice President, Research, Intuitive Surgical
“Surgical Robotics – A History of Intuitive + Opportunities for Research and Collaboration”
Intuitive Surgical was founded 23 years ago as a spinoff from SRI in Menlo Park, CA to create innovative, robotic-assisted systems that help empower doctors and hospitals to make surgery less invasive than an open approach. With more than 43,000 da Vinci trained surgeons using 4600 systems in 66 countries, over 5 million patients have been treated using the technology to-date. While minimally invasive surgery has many proven benefits over open surgery, patients can experience an array of adverse events in all forms of surgical intervention and significant research opportunities exist to make surgery far more effective with fewer complications. Jonathan will discuss Intuitive Surgical’s history and how it creates value for patients, surgeons and healthcare systems worldwide. He will highlight areas of growth for surgical robotics in general, with a deeper dive into areas that could benefit from improvement.
When he was 15, Jonathan Sorger’s father asked him about his summer plans and he responded in typical teenager fashion: “Dunno. I’ll probably go to the beach.”
Joe took Jonathan to the job placement center at his office and told him to apply for summer internships. He wound up at the ultrasound company Acuson, fixing computers and later helping to understand transducer failure modes to improve reliability.
It was there that he fell in love with medical imaging. He subsequently worked in Andrew McCulloch’s lab at UC San Diego studying cardiac mechanics while working towards his BS. During an interview at Johns Hopkins for grad school, Jonathan distinctly remembers Elliot McVeigh showing him a cardiac MRI, asking “why would you want to study ultrasound when we can see this?” Seven years later he completed his PhD/MBA, using cardiac MRI to study the effects of gene and stem cell therapies on heart disease.
Sorger next went to Stanford to help set up the newly-formed Department of Bioengineering and worked in a startup dealing with physiologic monitoring. Realizing that he wasn’t a ‘publish or perish’ kind of guy, Jonathan took a job at Varian Medical Systems helping to integrate molecular medicine into Varian’s radiation oncology offerings. From there he went to Intuitive Surgical, the manufacturer of the da Vinci Surgical System where he directs a Research Team dedicated to exploring new technologies, platforms and clinical applications related to Surgical Robotics. Ironically he has published more than he ever thought he would, and even received some grant funding along the way.