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Wellesley Grad Student’s Medical Device Wins Lemelson-MIT Prize

By Anthony Silva, WBZ NewsRadio 1030 New England Business Editor
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BOSTON (CBS) – A 25-year-old Wellesley graduate student at MIT has won this year’s $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Collegiate Student Prize.

Nikolai Begg has invented a mechanical device for doctors that helps with minimally invasive surgery.

Begg tells me he got interested in surgical robots when he researched a 7th grade science project.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Anthony Silva reports

“That’s when I realized I can be doing what I love to do, which is building stuff, trying to invent stuff, create new things, but at the same time I can be working in this incredible field of medicine and actually helping people.”

Begg says the device allows the skin to be cut at a precise depth. “One of the devices I’ve been working on is a mechanism, which as soon as the tip of the puncture access device punctures the tissue, the mechanism unlocks and pulls the blade back, so you lessen the risk of hurting an organ underneath.”

He adds that it’s a problem that a lot of people have been thinking about. “I was surprised to see just how pervasive it was. I first looked at it from the standpoint of laparoscopic surgery. When I was first watching these procedures, I was amazed that this gold standard procedure for all these different surgeries, is essentially a sphere being stuck through the patient’s abdomen to create that first incision. “

“I tried to say ‘This is a common problem. What is the root cause? What are the basic elementary physical principles that causes this to happen?’,” he continues. “It is that moment when you use that opposing force. Newton said ‘if you use force on an object, you’re going to get acceleration.’ So if you take more force to push something through tissue, you’re going to have higher acceleration on the other end.”

Begg has already developed half a dozen medical devices. MIT has filed patent applications for some of them.

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