The biomedical engineering research efforts at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette are spearheaded by Dr. Charles Taylor in his Cajun Artificial Heart Laboratory. This mission of this laboratory is to deliver research capabilities to the artificial internal organ community in the form of robust in vitro systems, with accompanying computational tools, to accelerate medical device development. The goal is to provide solutions that assist in safety, risk and reliability testing in the early phases of development. The intent is to form partnerships with device development groups that want to focus on their product, while thoroughly testing their design during the early stages of development.
By incorporating a verification and validation (V&V) approach, this lab’s methodology seeks to minimize the late development stage failure of systems due to design flaws that can be elucidated through rigorous laboratory analysis. Current focus is on cardiovascular medical devices, particularly left ventricular assist devices (LVAD’s), and their function against a variety of operating conditions that serve as the basis for their safety evaluation. Anatomical morphology and its impact on medical device performance is another key investigatory focus for this lab. With the complex geometry, and the exacerbation of this in disease states, it is necessary to incorporate these models in to the safety analysis. Work on left atrium, left ventricle, and aortic models provides a complete left heart analysis platform for a variety of technologies and products.
Implementing these research objectives is being achieved through the translation of practices utilized in other industries to address complex system certification, as well as innovation with technologies uniquely suited to addressing key biomedical challenges. The use of a V&V approach has helped this lab illustrate how physical modeling tools, hardware-in-the-loop (HIL), and real time target can be used to achieve solutions for safety assessment. Additive manufacturing provides an excellent means of fabricating complex geometry that was burdensome to traditional subtractive methods. However, utilization of this technology in mold processes and incorporating its abilities into the design tools used for device development are still evolving concepts. Pairing this technology with traditional methods, and newer cutting systems (e.g. waterjet), provide the type of integrations that advanced device designs may demand.