Made in the Berkshires: Special effects wizardry makes medical models. The Berkshire Eagle

Lisa Chamberlain, the vice president/managing partner of The Chamberlain Group, stands next to Surgical Sam, an elastic replica of a 14-month child the
(photo by Stephanie Zollshan — The Berkshire Eagle)

“…. Eric and Lisa Chamberlain, the husband and wife team who make their home in Stockbridge, founded the business in 1999. In fact, their company had a Hollywood beginning — like, right out of the movies — after adapting techniques they learned creating special effects for the film industry.

The Chamberlain Group works with more than 100 medical device companies and teaching and working hospitals that include Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and Columbia and Stanford universities.

It’s unusual work. They have competitors, but the Chamberlains created a business genre basically from scratch. Thus, The Chamberlain Group’s 23 employees, which include the couple’s daughter, Halli, a Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts graduate, come from diverse backgrounds.”

It’s a testament to their perceptive leadership and very fine-tuned marketing forces and strategy…. They went from a locally based business to a national reputation and now an international reputation. That’s a trajectory that we’ve hoped for many businesses to have here.

Keith Girouard, Regional Director of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, Pittsfield, MA

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Chamberlain Group Receives AIM “Massachusetts Next Century” Award

aim-lord-and-chamberlains_crIn recognition of their contributions to the region’s economy The Chamberlain Group received a Next Century Award from the Associated Industries of Massachusetts. Lisa and Eric Chamberlain joined other local area industry leaders at a reception at Interprint Inc., Pittsfield MA.

“AIM created the Next Century Award to honor the accomplishments of companies and individuals creating a new era of economic opportunity for the people of Massachusetts. These remarkable people and institutions – world leaders in their fields – inspire the rest of us by exemplifying the intelligence, hard work and dedication to success that has built our commonwealth,” said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.

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>> Full Berkshire Eagle Article — Berkshire Business That Are Aiming High

> Full AIM Press Release “AIM Honors 16 Companies & Individuals with Next Century Awards”

“How does a group of high-end visual effects professionals working in movies and television end up improving the quality of medical care for millions of people?

If you’re The Chamberlain Group in Great Barrington, you use your visual effects wizardry to make mimetic organs for surgical and interventional training.

Chamberlain’s life-like organs are used in the sophisticated simulation labs that medical schools, hospitals and medical device makers employ to train surgeons. The company’s mission is to “bring practice to the practice of medicine.”

The Chamberlain Group’s products are sold to more than 150 medical-device manufacturers and teaching institutions in 50 countries, including Russia and India, Asia and the Middle East, and in virtually all 50 states domestically. Their client list includes Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Cleveland Clinic, Lahey Clinic, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Mayo Clinic, and NASA.

Berkshire Business Quarterly magazine said, “The Chamberlain Group’s design ingenuity has been a breakthrough for the medical community. Models look, weigh, and feel just like real living tissue and provide a better training device than a cadaver, animal, or lesser-realized product would.”

Eric and Lisa Chamberlain launched The Chamberlain Group in 1999 after working for New York design firms that made miniature models and special visual effects for films ranging from Gandhi, Tootsie, and The Big Chill to Ghostbusters, Predator and Woody Allen’s Zelig. Medical schools and device manufacturers were beginning to move away from cadavers and animals in their training programs and the Chamberlains saw opportunity in the burgeoning simulation business.

It was a textbook case of nimble entrepreneurs adapting skills from one industry to a seemingly unrelated one. The result is a thriving enterprise with 23 employees working in an 8,500-square-foot design and manufacturing facility.”

 

 

Artificial Patients, Real Learning. The New York Times, Health

By Karen Weintraub

“BOSTON — The patient’s blood pressure had reportedly crashed in the ambulance; a gunshot wound had damaged the heart. In the operating room, a medical resident, Dr. Dan Hashimoto, slid a knife into the patient’s chest and sliced horizontally, from the sternum across the torso.

He thrust his hand into the gash, grasped the beating heart and squeezed

>> Full Article

Surgical Sam Helps Train Boston Children’s Hospital Surgeons

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By Jon Christian
Globe Correspondent

In an operating theater deep in Boston Children’s Hospital, surrounded by state-of-the-art medical equipment, a surgical team is on the brink of losing a young patient. Their goal was to locate and repair a perforation in the bowel, but something’s gone wrong: The liver is bleeding uncontrollably, and if they can’t staunch the source, the patient’s chances are grim.
Someone calls a code blue, indicating cardiac arrest, and a crash cart appears as a heart monitor reaches a fever pitch. And then, just as suddenly, Dr. Peter Weinstock interrupts and a startling calm replaces the crisis atmosphere.

“OK, guys, we’re going to pause right now,” Weinstock called out to the surgical team. “We’re going to head back to do our last debriefing.”

Weinstock is director of Boston Children Hospital’s Simulator Program, and his current “baby’’ on the operating table is a sophisticated medical mannequin that provides surgical teams with an immersive training environment.

The child-sized mannequin is named Surgical Sam. Under its skin, which surgeons cut into with real scalpels, are facsimile bones, organs, and fluids made from plastic and other synthetic materials that approximate human tissues and liquids. Like a real child, Sam breathes and has a heartbeat, and, if you nick an artery, bleeds synthetic red blood. ►link to full article.

►PDF of Article.

Chamberlain Group Sponsors the TSDA Third Annual CT Surgery Boot Camp

32 Residents Gather for Hands-On Training
July 8-11, 2010

The Thoracic Surgery Directors Association (TSDA) hosted the third annual cardiothoracic surgery Boot Camp July 8-11, 2010 in Chapel Hill, NC. The program, developed by TSDA and funded by an educational grant from the Joint Council on Thoracic Surgery Education, Inc. (JCTSE), provided resident participants with training in five specific CT surgical areas: cardiopulmonary bypass, anastomosis, open lobectomy, bronchoscopy/mediastinoscopy, and aortic valve surgery. More than 30 volunteer faculty members and guests donated their time and expertise to lead the resident courses and participate in faculty development sessions to identify and discuss critical issues concerning the future of cardiothoracic education.

Boot Camp program directors James I. Fann, MD, Richard H. Feins, MD, and George L. Hicks, Jr. MD, crafted the two-and-a-half day intensive course based on needs emerging in CT surgery residency programs. With the use of simulators for both the cardiac and thoracic sessions, the training provided experience and hands-on practice in basic CT operating skills, allowing residents to be better prepared when entering the operating room in their home programs.

Based on resident evaluations, the third annual TSDA Boot Camp was a resounding success. Residents indicated “the simulation was excellent,” the program was “a fantastic and very rewarding event” and considered Boot Camp an “amazing opportunity.” Residents also expressed gratitude toward the faculty “who volunteered their time to come and teach” and were “very helpful.”

Visit TSDA‘s website for pictures of the event

Berkshire Business Quarterly: Body Double

The Chamberlain Group turns special effects know-how into medical mastery.…

They were taking a chance. Surgeons had completely draped the patient, except
for a small section of the forearm from which they sought a radial artery necessary for
the cardiac bypass procedure. They moved with precision and focus inside the complex system of engineering that is the human body. But this body was sick, and every team member utilized a skill and every instrument had a purpose: to make it
healthy again.

 

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Springfield: Chamberlains Earn Hall of Fame Honor

Business briefs 10/5/06

Eric and Lisa Chamberlain, owners of The Chamberlain Group in Great Barrington, will be honored tonight by the Western Massachusetts Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. Established in 2000, the Hall of Fame is located at the Andrew M. Scibelli Enterprise Center at Springfield Technical Community College.

The Chamberlain Group will receive the County Achievement Award for Berkshire County.

Most people have seen the medical models and mechanical special effects created by members of The Chamberlain Group in trailers and films including Superman, Ghostbusters, The Matrix, Starship Troopers, Gandhi, and many more. The Chamberlain Group’s focus now is custom models for medicine, used for training and research by companies and educational institutions such as Abbott Vascular, Boston Scientific and Carnegie Mellon University.

Jobs of the Future

THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE

by Jessica Willis

September 21, 2006

What do a venture capitalist, an artistic director of a theater company, a co-creator of an anatomical model design and a production company, and a president of a custom molder firm have in common?

They all know that in order to maintain a competitive edge in their fields, they must be visionaries and be able to understand, interpret and manifest the future of their business. Moreover, they all understand that the future of their industries demands not only flexibility, but the ability to offer both a breadth and depth of unparalleled ideas, products and services.

We recently sat down with four industry leaders to discover their projections for future Berkshire County job opportunities and what those will require in training and education. The leaders are:

Matt Harris, President and CEO of Village Ventures, a Williamstown venture capital firm focusing on finance and investments.

Julianne Boyd, Founder and Artistic Director of the Barrington Stage Company which recently relocated to Pittsfield.

Lisa Chamberlain, Managing Partner of The Chamberlain Group in Great Barrington, which designs and manufactures anatomical models used for training, sales, marketing and development of medical devices and procedures.

Don Rochelo, President of Apex Resource Technologies, a plastics manufacturing company located in Pittsfield.
Why have you chosen to locate or keep your business in Berkshire County?

Matt: I founded the firm along with a partner and both of us have homes in Williamstown, and both of us love the area. We just wanted to be in the Berkshires. The other reason is that it’s less expensive here than in Boston or New York which would be our logical market.

Julianne: The local residents are really supportive of the arts, I think they understand the importance of art, I think they understand the importance of tourism as a business, and that it rests primarily with the arts.

Lisa: It was primarily a lifestyle choice for Eric (Chamberlain, her husband and partner who runs the design development area) and me. So with the transportability, particularly ours, which is really international, and the growing flexibility of the Internet, we were pretty much able to locate wherever we wanted.

Don: This is an absolutely gorgeous area. I grew up in this area, and due to the economic downturn around 2000, even because of that, the plastics industry in Berkshire County, has been relatively stable. Some states have lost hundreds and hundreds of plastics companies as a result of the economic downturn, but in my opinion, businesses here have been able to stay fairly stable, and are growing.
What are the jobs of the future in your line of business?

Matt: You could see more firms in asset management in different places, as location becomes less and less important. You can run a hedge fund or an investment fund almost anywhere now, whereas in the past you had to be down on Wall St. That’s a real opportunity for the Berkshires.

Julianne: We’re going to be doing a lot more in educational outreach throughout the year. We have a very active program for youth at risk, as well as a drama program year round. We will be hiring more people in that area.

Lisa: We’re doing a lot of work with research and development departments of medical device companies who have engineers who need anatomical models to react to. We feel that there are opportunities beyond even the specific niche that we’re in now with anatomy development, across other kinds of industrial design work that we will definitely see more of in the future.

Don: We will need software engineers, mechanical engineers-these are the people who can build, expedite and troubleshoot automation. You’re bringing in a higher pay structure of employment, but the payoff is huge.
We’re doing more sales with less people and the general game plan is to continue that trend. The future jobs in this business are technical. Technical in every possible way that you can use the term. I’ve hired three engineers of various types in the last year. There’s more sophisticated equipment in the facility to automate, therefore, more sophisticated technical skills are required.

What qualifications will future potential job applicants need to be considered to work in your line of business?

Matt: Bookkeeping, CPAs or other kind of accounting qualifications, and paralegal. We struggle to find high level finance people. CFO types. We’ve had success recruiting people here.

Julianne: They have to have some understanding of arts and theater. Do they have to have done theater? No. Theater requires good quick decision making and the ability to move off of those decisions if they are not working. I think theater is a great training ground for people coming into the job market. You’re making decisions based on human and financial resources.

Lisa: We’re looking for people with a thorough understanding of what it means to be an employee and to come in every day, giving us the best that they’ve got.

Don: You need a knowledge of mechanical engineering and sophisticated management software. Everything we do in our business is of a technical nature. We use an enormous amount of computers. All of our mold makers have a computer at each station. Even the junior employees require a higher skill level; it’s better that they have an associate degree.

In your opinion, what are the primary skill sets that the workforce of the future will require to succeed?

Matt: I think we need folks with higher level financial skills on every level.

Julianne: It’s like being on fire: stop, drop and roll. Stop if there’s a problem, drop the decision if it isn’t working, and roll with the punches.

Lisa: A great attitude, first and foremost. People who are hungry for jobs and to do their best work are going to be the people who succeed. If we think that just showing up is enough, we’ve already seen why it isn’t. Opportunities will be provided to those with great attitudes and a great work ethic. That’s what we’re frankly finding the hardest to find. If somebody comes to us without those qualities, it’s the hardest to nurture. We can teach the skills that are needed to do a particular task, but a real willingness to jump in and be receptive to learning and thoroughness-Eric calls it “doing the last five percent”-that really makes a difference to us.

Don: The truth of the matter is, is that the so-called blue collar worker and how we use them in the future will be less and less. It’s a huge change. [Employees in the workforce of the future] need, at the very least, sophisticated computer skills.

The workforce of the future will be a place that rewards those who are flexible, educated, personable, and well-rounded, and who have specialized technical skills. Opportunities in arts, tourism, finance, management, healthcare and engineering (to name but a few) abound in the Berkshires; it is the responsibility of the employee of the future to be prepared for the almost limitless opportunities that are available.