by Amani Ibrahim
The Laboratory for Percutaneous Surgery (The Perk Lab) specializes in translational clinical engineering research and the development of open-source software and hardware tools for image-guided computer-assisted intervention procedures. The Perk Lab is directed by Dr. Gabor Fichtinger, a Cancer Ontario Research Chair in Cancer Imaging and an international scholar. Associate directors, Dr. Andras Lasso and Dr. Tamas Ungi, oversee research software and clinical translation operations. Together with Csaba Pinter, research engineer, they support the members of the Perk Lab in all aspects of research, including implementation, integration, and validation.
The members of the Perk Lab have diverse backgrounds and skill sets, intermingling computer science, engineering, and medicine. The Perk Lab is located at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, situated amongst enchanting ivy-studded limestone buildings and the beautiful Lake Ontario waterfront. The lab currently has over 30 active members, comprising of undergraduates, master’s, and PhD students, as well as postdocs and research engineers. This combination creates an enriching research environment, in which lab members foster one another’s learning and development.
Extensive interdisciplinary collaborations both within Queen’s University and internationally ensure a constant supply of interesting and challenging projects for Perk Lab members. These collaborations have lead to the production and integration of open-source software tools for enhancing translational research in image-guided computer-assisted interventions. Two signature projects include the Public Library for Ultrasound (www.PlusToolkit.org), a software platform offered to developers of ultrasound-guided interventions, and SlicerRT (www.PlusToolkit.org), a radiation therapy toolkit based on 3D Slicer. Another major development has been a system for electromagnetically-navigated breast cancer surgery, where real-time visualization and tracking of the tumour ensure complete removal of the tumour with minimum healthy tissue excised. With the advent of Competency Based Medical Education, the Perk Lab has become active in the nascent field of medical education informatics, developing novel methods and systems for computational assessment of interventional and surgical skills.
At Queen’s University, numerous partnerships enable the Perk Lab to create clinical impact by translating its research to a clinical setting. Open-source software platforms continue to attract large international research partners. Close partnership with industry helps to infuse a practical perspective, so that our research projects are not only scientifically novel, technologically innovative and clinically relevant, but also envision commercialization. The Perk Lab has filed over 20 patents and inventions 80% of which students were co-inventors.
The Perk Lab’s symbiotic network, creative approaches, and disciplined software engineering practices make it a leading force in the field, and further motivate its search for advances in computer-assisted interventions. To learn more about the Perk Lab or how to join our team, please visit http://perk.cs.queensu.ca.