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CHUI Chee Kong, PhD


Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore                 


Bio-mechatronics can mean different things to different people. I like the broad and simple definition that it is the "marriage" of mechatronics and biology. This is an applied interdisciplinary science. Elements of mechanics, electronics, computing, and biology are apparent in my research projects and contribution.

Research Projects

I am currently working on the following funded projects. The deliverables of these projects are mainly a combination of hardware and software solutions. They are at various stages of development. I am glad that I have good research collaborators. I also have good engineers, graduate and undergraduate students. Some of my students have graduated. I hope that they will find their experiences on medical devices meaningful even if they are no longer dealing with medical devices.   

(a) Simulation based design, development and experiment of augmented reality surgery

An approach in advancing the field of computer aided surgical system with robotic manipulator for treatment delivery is via a more efficient preparation of the robotic surgical intervention using computer simulation. The programming and debugging of the robot applications scenarios could be performed using Microsoft Robotic Studio. However, its embedded advanced physics simulation engine is not sufficient to model the complex interaction between the surgical devices, and liver tissue and tumor. For example, insertion of surgical needle into liver tumor may bend or display the tumor instead of penetrating it. We adopted an integrated multi-body and finite element approach in the modeling and simulation of device/tissue interaction.
We also want to reduce the dependency on surgeon’s manual skill, and improve the ease of surgery being performed. This will require extensive research, development and experiment on advanced man-machine interface and instrumentation for an intuitive and effective interfacing between clinician, patient, devices and robotic manipulators. With the simulation system, a surgeon can create a surgical plan specific to the patient’s anatomy. Our proposed prototype surgical system will enable the surgeon to perform the surgery with the pre-operative plan integrated into the execution. Fusion of the visual perception of the real patient with a visual perception of the medical images and visualization of medical instruments is achieved using augmented reality technologies. The integration of haptic and visual feedback differentiates our proposed augmented reality based surgical system from existing systems.
The proposed advanced surgical system will be demonstrated in its applications on the treatment of human liver tumors.

I am the PI of this project. Dr. Stephen Chang is my main clinical collaborator. He is a Consultant Surgeon in National University Hospital. This project is funded by Faculty Research Committee Start-up Grant.

(b) Microlaryngeal vocal cord clip and applicator

Following is a lay summary prepared by the PI - Dr. David Lau from Singapore General Hospital. He is a Senior Consultant in the Department of Otolaryngology. I am a co-PI of this project. This project is funded by NMRC EDG Grant.

"A surgeon from SGH ENT department and scientists from NUS engineering department are combining expertise in ENT surgery and biomechatronics to develop the world’s first micro-laryngeal vocal cord clip and applicator (MVCCA), with the aim of improving delicate micro-laryngeal surgery to vocal cords.
Surgery to the vocal cords is typically performed through the patient’s mouth, thereby avoiding an incision in the skin. Access to the vocal cords requires specialised tubular laryngoscopes, through which surgery is performed with long-handled micro-instruments. An operating microscope is also required to provide magnification. Clearly, applying a stitch to the vocal cord can be quite a challenge.
The MVCCA would refine the process of closing surgical wounds on the vocal folds. The clip requires special material properties to be fine enough not to interfere with vibration of the vocal cords and yet secure enough not to be dislodged by vibration. It must also be re-absorbable after a fixed timeframe to avoid the need to remove the clip. Applying the clip accurately has further biomechanical challenges as it must be done with a remote device akin to a microscopic claw.
Micro-clips are small, yet secure, and disappear without a trace once healing has taken place. Micro-clip “stitches” are a significant step forward for the surgical process as they allow for better wound closure to enhance faster, neater healing."

(c) Cryopreserved cadaveric vascular grafts: Studying the long term effects of cyropreservation

The PI of this project is Dr. Stephen Chang. This project is funded by NMRC New Investigator Grant. Medical device made of biological materials has a lot of potential in improving health care delivery. The durability and degradation of material properties is a challenge for biological device. Apart from designing and implementing the experiments to measure the biomechanical properties of the blood vessels, I want to develop a constitutive model that could accurately account for the changes in mechanical properties from the variation of temperature.

(d) Characterization of anisotropic healthy, pathological and ablated liver tissue using quantitative MR elastography

The project is funded by JSPS-Singapore Research Project Grant. I am the PI of this project. My counter part in Japan is A/Prof. Etsuko Kobayashi. The objective of this project is to develop techniques to distinguish living, diseased (cirrhosis, tumor) and dead (ablated) liver tissues. We want to characterize the different states of the tissue in according to their varying mechanical properties that can be detected using dynamic MR imaging. The first steps involve imaging phantom materials vibrated by MR compatible actuating mechanism.   

(e) Development of an ablation and division device with blood flow sensor feature

The PI of this project is Dr. Stephen Chang. I am the co-PI. This project is funded by NMRC EDG Grant. This project studies the effect of high temperature on liver tissue as well as the blood flow with the hepatic vessels. This findings are important in the design and development of an intelligent ablation and division surgical device. A accurate quantitative measurement of the blood flow in the ablated tissue is a challenge with existing sensors as well as unconventional signal processing methods.   

(f) Restoring voice in laryngeal cancer patients. A new device and method for in-office unsedated tracheoesophageal puncture (TEP)

This is a new project to be funded by NMRC EDG Grant. The PI is Dr. David Lau. I am a co-PI.

(g) Segmentation, structural modeling and simulation of the aorta and liver for clinical decision-making and treatment planning

This project is funded by BMRC-SBIC Collaborative Grant. I am the Project co-PI on finite element modeling and simulation of the aorta. I want to focus on the interaction between the customized stent graft and the blood vessels. Imaging the mechanical properties of pathological blood vessel has always been


Research Contribution

(a) Please refer to Publications for a list of my "Publication".

(b) Patents

  1. Virtual reality system with force feedback, US Patent 7,236,618, October 2007. (CK Chui, W Hua, YP Wang and W Nowinski)

  2. Apparatus for the simulation of image-guided surgery, US Patent 6,538,634, March 2003 (CK Chui, P Chen, YP Wang, M Ang Jr, YY Cai and KH Mak)

  3. A device for laparoscopic/thoracoscopic surgery, Patent Pending, PCT filed, October 2006. (AS Pang, CJ Ong, CK Chui)

  4. Apparatus for medical and/or simulation procedures, Patent Pending, PCT filed, March 2005. (O Khatib, M Xin, WL Nowinski, M Ang Jr, CK Chui and ZR Li)

  5. Simulation system for training and pre-treatment planning of image guided needle placement procedures, Patent Pending, US Provisional filed, May 2002; US & PCT filed, May 2003. (J Anderson, CK Chui, K Murrphy, A Venbrux, Teo JCM, ZR Li, X Ma, ZL Wang)

  6. System and method for anatomical modeling, Patent Pending, PCT filed, May 2001. (XS Chen, CK Chui and W Nowinski)

  7. Advanced simulation for cardiovascular image guided therapy, Patent Pending, US Provisional filed, February 2001; US & PCT Filed, March 2002 (J Anderson, CK Chui, X Ma, YP Wang, YY Cai, W Brody and W Nowinski)

  8. Advanced simulation system for customized interventional therapy device design, Patent Pending, US Provisional filed, February 2001; US & PCT FiledMarch 2002 (J Anderson, CK Chui, YY Cai, YP Wang, W Brody and W Nowinski) 

(c) Research awards or prizes

  1. 2nd MRS-S Conference on Advanced Materials Merit Award for Poster - Measuring material properties of bone using CT imaging, Singapore, January 2006  (L Yang, C Chui, SH Ong, SC Wang, SH Teoh, CH Yan)

  2. Radiological Society of North America 2001 InfoRAD Awards, Certificate of Merit, PC based simulator for cardiovascular catheterization and image guided therapy, Chicago IL, United States of America, November 2001
    (Team/co-Principal Investigator)

  3. National 2000 Tan Kah Kee Young Inventors’ Award Competition, Merit Award, PC based computer simulator for interventional catheterization procedure, Singapore, March 2001

  4. European Congress of Radiology 2000 CompuRAD Awards, Magna Cum Laude, Model-enhanced neuroradiology, Vienna, Austria, March 2000 (Team)

(d) Membership of editorial boards; conference committees

  1. 3rd Asian Conference on Computer Aided Surgery (ACCAS 2007), Singapore, 2-3 December 2006 (Program Co-chair)

  2. IEEE 9th International Conference on Control, Automation, Robotics and Vision (ICARCV 2006), Singapore, 5-8 December 2006 (Special Session co-Chair)

  3. ACM SIGGRAPH International Conference on Virtual-Reality Continuum and its Applications in Industry (VRCAI2004), Singapore, June 2004 (Member of Technical Committee)

(e) Service as reviewer in international journals
ACTA Biomaterialia, Biomaterials, Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine, Computers in Biology and Medicine, IEEE Automation Science and Engineering, IEEE Transactions Biomedical Engineering, International Journal of Imaging and Graphics, Journal of Medical Systems, Machine Vision and Application, Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing, Simulation and Gaming.


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