Skip to content

Surgical Innovation Group

The Surgical Innovation Group (SIG) has been serving Penn State Health, College of Medicine and the university for more than 10 years with the aim of accelerating the overall pace of surgical innovation by drawing on the expertise of clinicians, researchers, staff and industry professionals. The focus of SIG is medical devices for surgical, orthopaedics, routine patient care, diagnostics and treatment applications, including instruments, apparatuses, implants, wearables and machines.

SIG specializes in leveraging organizational assets, including cutting edge technology, research discoveries and excellence in clinical care utilizing Penn State crowd-sourced problem-solving and multidisciplinary networking. See the complete list of complimentary services below.

Whether you have an idea for a new product or have a problem to solve, contact SIG today.

Contact SIG about your project, idea or clinical challenge

Jump to topic


Learn More about the Surgical Innovation Group

About SIG Expand answer

Just like research, innovation is a process and a discipline. It all starts with an idea or challenge, but that is only the first step. The goal of the Surgical Innovation Group (SIG) is to create a forum to understand the clinical problem, expand ideas, and ideate on solutions with market considerations in mind. Robust project management efficiently moves potential solutions forward along the commercialization pathway facilitating getting products to market faster where they can improve health and benefit society.

SIG uses a collaborative approach to vet ideas and develop promising medical innovation using an iterative process, preparing technologies for exit through strategic partnership, license or startup. The group has extensive experience moving medical technologies towards market utilizing our broad network to de-risk solutions and determine potential patient impact. SIG is passionate about helping you solve a problem and turning your ideas into tangible, real-world products.

The Surgical Innovation Group is a collaboration between the Department of Surgery and the Center for Medical Innovation, drawing on members’ vast networks of multidisciplinary and industry contacts.

Services Provided Expand answer

The Surgical Innovation Group aims to move your medical innovation from ideation to clinical implementation. Key services, offered to propel you along the commercialization pathway, include:

  • Assess and refine technologies leveraging expertise in design and engineering
  • Prototyping and 3D printing services
  • Expanding Intellectual Property (IP)
  • Connect with an extensive network of multidisciplinary collaborators
  • Entrepreneurial advisors and mentors
  • Project management guidance
  • Funding opportunity support
  • Link your technology to industry partners
  • De-risk technologies for attracting investors
  • Marketing, graphics, illustrations and other various visualizations
  • Regulatory guidance
  • Provide access to a comprehensive team of clinical and engineering faculty
  • Customer discovery, market analysis and business strategy
Success Stories / News Expand answer


A blue AdvantageRib fixation plate is attached to the inner surface of a curved, broken rib using very small incisions, fiber optics and low-profile bolts


Members of the Surgical Innovation Group developed a novel device, instrument set and technique to allow for a minimally-invasive approach to rib fixation in trauma patients. Designed to be a quicker, less traumatic method for mending broken ribs than the traditional, invasive surgery, the AdvantageRib System delivers faster healing and less pain for patients with chest injuries. The innovative technology was purchased in 2019 by Zimmer Biomet, a company specializing in the design, manufacture and marketing of orthopedic reconstructive products.

Cranial Devices

Cranial Devices, Inc. HydroFix shunt graphic, depicting the device’s small size and length confined to the head in comparison to the standard brain shunt, which runs down the torso into the abdomen

Cranial device

Co-founded by SIG members Barry Fell and Dr. Randy Haluck, Cranial Devices (CDI) was created to advance the Penn State technology “HydroFix,” an advanced surgical shunt system used to treat adult normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH). Co-developed by Dr. Elias Rizk, Dr. Will Hazard, Fell and Dr. Haluck, the HydroFix shunt is designed to mitigate the many risks associated with the current shunts on the market, providing a durable treatment solution for NPH patients. CDI was awarded first place and the $75,000 grand prize at Invent Penn State’s 2021 virtual Tech Tournament beating out a highly competitive field of Penn State’s most disruptive innovations and early-stage startups.

Ramiah’s Story

A life-size, colorful 3D printed model of a newborn inner chest area and device against a blue background that was used to plan a tracheal agenesis surgery

Model to size doctors used to create 3D part right for Ramiah Martin.

Ramiah Martin was born with a very rare developmental abnormality called tracheal agenesis, meaning she didn’t have a trachea, or windpipe. Most children with this condition do not survive. After transferring to Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, a team of specialists, utilizing the expertise of the Surgical Innovation Group, developed a 3D-printed bioabsorbable device to be surgically implanted as a scaffold to help Ramiah’s esophagus serve as a replacement for her missing trachea. Ramiah is now among the very few children worldwide that survive this condition, one of two in the United States.

MASC Initiative

A collection of 27 colorful 3D printed protective face mask prototypes are arranged on a wood table during a meeting where clinicians were invited to test each model and provide direct feedback on fit, size and comfort.

Mask designs

As Penn State Health was strategically preparing to face the impact of COVID-19, a multidisciplinary team assembled to form MASC, the Manufacturing and Sterilization for COVID-19, an initiative focused on designing and delivering rapidly scalable solutions to solve clinical needs for Penn State and health systems across Pennsylvania. Members of the Surgical Innovation Group were instrumental in progressing a number of the projects, including 3D-printed protective masks, disposable stethoscopes and test swabs, as well as partnering with local GMP manufacturers to help design, fabricate and deliver hundreds of thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face shields, masks and gowns.

Leadership Expand answer

Anthony Tsai, MDThe Surgical Innovation Group is led by director Anthony Tsai, MD. Dr. Tsai is a pediatric surgeon, medical innovation facilitator, global health promoter and gadget enthusiast. With a special interest in digital health, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, health science systems, and innovation process, he seeks to promote health globally through the intersection of medicine, technology, innovation and faith.

Dr. Tsai is currently an associate professor of surgery at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, division of pediatric surgery. His main clinical interest is minimally invasive surgery, chest wall deformities and congenital malformations. He has led a successful implantation of a 3D printed splint in a patient with congenital airway defect that led to the second known North American survivor of the pathology, tracheal agenesis. He has published in the area of immunology, trauma and minimally invasive surgery. His research interest is in chest wall deformities, artificial intelligence, innovation process, surgical technologies and global health. He serves on the American Pediatric Surgical Association Industry and Institutional Advisory Committee and New Technology Committee.

Contact the director at

Key Personnel Expand answer