Baystate Medical Center and The Chamberlain Group Receive State Grant to Develop Surgical Training Kit

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Ben Craft, Baystate Medical Center
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David Carriere
Media contact for The Chamberlain Group
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John Adams Innovation Institute awards $150k for artificial-tissue project

Springfield, MA (October 28, 2008) – The John Adams Innovation Institute today announced a $150,000 grant to Baystate Medical Center and The Chamberlain Group to support development of a new surgical training system, bolstering the nationally recognized hospital’s position as a leader in medical simulation training. Combining proven simulation training techniques with the use of non-biological replicas of human organs, the project will establish a new standard in surgical simulation training, equipping young surgeons with a level and sophistication of skill previously unattainable.

The project, the Tactility Learning System, is a collaboration comprising medical leaders and surgical experts from Baystate Medical Center and The Chamberlain Group, a western Massachusetts-based company that produces anatomically correct, tissue-responsive medical models. The effort will leverage state-of-the-art simulation technology to open up new market opportunities in the biotech field, while at the same time helping to keep rising healthcare costs in check by helping surgeons operate at a higher skill level–and thus reducing the rate of costly medical errors.

“For a very long time, the standard model of surgical training has been ‘watch one, do one, teach one.’ This system is so realistic that that model is going to change,” said Richard B. Wait, MD, PhD., Chairman of Surgery at Baystate Health. “Now it’s going to be ‘watch one—then practice a dozen—then do one and teach one.’ We’re going to have young surgeons coming to their first procedure better trained and more capable than ever before.”

“In addition to improving health outcomes for the citizens of Massachusetts, Baystate Medical Center is once again demonstrating that robust innovation activity and top medical science and expertise is thriving across the Commonwealth,” said State Sen. Stephen J. Buoniconti, D-Springfield, a longtime supporter of the hospital in its role as an academic and economic center for western Massachusetts.

“To think the first time I visited the Chamberlain Group in Great Barrington I thought I was in a Hollywood Special Effects Studio, but I soon learned that they are on the cutting edge of the most innovative medical technology training, not only in the state but in the country,” said State Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D-Lenox, a member of the Committee on Higher Education. “Collaborations like these with our fine institutions of higher learning and leaders in the health care industry help reinforce our interest in the life sciences.”

The new system will promote the expansion of Baystate’s role as a national center for simulation training in graduate and continuing medical education, attracting top-tier faculty to the hospital—the western campus of Tufts University School of Medicine—and increasing employment opportunities for specialists in the medical device, plastics, and precision-machining sectors. Investments like this one are also helping the Pioneer Valley become a center of life sciences activity.

“The engine that drives our Commonwealth’s knowledge economy is fueled by innovation and the institutional collaborations that come from it. This surgical training enterprise can catalyze the partnerships necessary for important downstream economic benefits to the region and beyond,” said Pat Larkin, Director of the John Adams Innovation Institute. The Innovation Institute is a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the state’s economic development agency for the innovation economy.

The project’s immediate work is the development, production, and validation of a surgical training kit for open bowel surgery, advancing the simulation training curriculum of area academic institutes, and establishing competitive advantages for Baystate’s Simulation Center and Goldberg Surgical Skills Lab and the businesses associated with the training system. The kit will include ultrarealistic artificial bowel tissue, surgical tools and multimedia instructional materials. Eventually, simulated tissue and training materials for other types of surgeries will be available.

“We see the Open Bowel Trainer as the first in what we expect will be an expanding line of products designed for resident training, combining our mimetic tissue with curriculum developed by Baystate faculty,” said Eric Chamberlain, president of The Chamberlain Group. “This potent combination of didactics and hands-on anatomy will address a multitude of surgical education needs, making it possible for centers across the U.S. and worldwide to benefit from the advances we are making collectively.”

“The most important outcome of Baystate Medical Center’s notable leadership in simulation training is improving patient outcomes and the overall quality of our care through innovation in education,” said Dr. Neal Seymour, Chief of General Surgery at Baystate Medical Center and Medical Director of the Baystate Simulation Center and Goldberg Surgical Skills Lab. “But the fact that collaborations like ours with The Chamberlain Group and the John Adams Innovation Institute are leading to new economic opportunity in western Massachusetts, is truly expanding the definition of caring for a community.”


The John Adams Innovation Institute, the economic development division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, is entrusted with management of two public purpose funds. The funds make targeted, strategic investments to strengthen industry clusters, support the research enterprise, and grow the Massachusetts Innovation Economy. Visit to learn more.

Baystate Medical Center, in Springfield, Massachusetts, is an academic, research, and teaching hospital that serves as the western campus of Tufts University School of Medicine. It is the major referral care center for patients in western Massachusetts, and in 2008 it was again ranked among the nation’s top hospitals by US News and World Report. Baystate Medical Center is designated a Magnet hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and is the only hospital in the nation to win the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence four consecutive times. Baystate Medical Center collaborates with the University of Massachusetts Amherst in bringing the benefits of biomedical technology and research to the region through the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute.Visit

The Chamberlain Group, based in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, is the worldwide leader in the development of custom models for surgical training. Founded in 1999, the company designs and manufactures anatomically accurate medical models that capture the consistency and response of living tissue. These models provide the best alternative to animals and cadavers for demonstrating medical devices and teaching new procedures. Chamberlain Group models are used for cardiothoracic, vascular, general and gastrointestinal, reproductive, urological, and pulmonary training. The company currently works with more than 150 leading medical device manufacturers and teaching institutions in 40 countries.

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