Innovation Accelerator

The Surgery Research Center's Innovation Accelerator program partners medical inventors with experts in engineering, manufacturing and business development to dramatically accelerate the delivery of novel technology to patients and address critical unmet patient needs.

The Innovation Accelerator program fosters a culture of patient-centric innovation that supports delivery of field-leading surgical and procedural care across the Mayo Clinic enterprise.

The program's core value is straightforward: No patient should have to wait for a better solution.


From seemingly simple devices to highly complex solutions requiring hardware and software engineering, inventors supported by the Surgery Research Center's Innovation Accelerator program are focused on developing patient-centered solutions for significant obstacles in both general surgery and disease-specific focus areas.

Blackmon anastomotic stent

Shanda Blackmon, M.D., M.P.H., is the inventor of a deployment device that is passed into the esophagus or lumen of the bowel to secure a stent into a surgically created connection (anastomosis) in the body. Dr. Blackmon designed this innovative device to eliminate leakage caused by technical failure during both minimally invasive and open procedures. It could greatly reduce hospital length of stay and decrease patient complications.

Drainage tube obstruction extractor

Johnathon M. Aho, M.D., Ph.D., is the inventor of a device to allow simple and efficient surgical drainage tube clearance after surgical procedures. Dr. Aho's drainage tube extractor has the potential to decrease surgical complications and increase effective treatment in the case of drainage tube blockage.

Endoscopic vessel collection device

Kenneth R. Dye, P.A.-C., is developing an endoscopic vessel collection device that — as opposed to current cylindrical devices — will decrease tissue damage and decrease graft failure rates. The device's innovative design is built to preserve the tissue lining the inside of the vessels (endothelial tissue) and decrease damage, thereby improving the standard of care in vessel collection.

Eye movement monitoring patch

Jamie J. Van Gompel, M.D., is developing an eye movement monitoring patch that offers a noninvasive and elegant solution to detect eye movement during brain surgery and has the capacity to replace current, invasive methods of eye movement with needle electrodes. Dr. Van Gompel's patch also reduces time and technical requirements, compared with other techniques for monitoring eye movements.

Laparoscopic hammock

Kimberly A. Holst, M.D., has designed a prototype to gently cradle tissue to manipulate it during laparoscopic surgery. Dr. Holst's laparoscopic hammock helps surgeons decrease complications related to tissue manipulation, such as infection, growth of tissue masses, spread of cancer cells and other potentially life-threatening conditions.

Layered complex areolar stencil

Alanna M. Rebecca, M.D., and Solomon (Sol) M. Azouz, M.D., are developing a solution for practitioners to systematically and consistently tattoo a nipple areolar complex in patients after mastectomies. The device provides a novel method of tattooing the nipple areolar complex using layered stencils in reconstructed breasts, improving patients' confidence and self-image after mastectomies.

Left ventricular assist device (LVAD) thrombolysis system

Atta Behfar, M.D., Ph.D., and David L. Joyce, M.D., are creating a system to minimize the risk and invasiveness of managing pump clotting (thrombosis). The current standard of care is to surgically exchange the clotted pump, which is a highly invasive procedure. Drs. Behfar and Joyce's prototype device permits catheter-based delivery of lytic agents into the LVAD inflow tube while removing any clot debris through a filter that is placed into the outflow graft.

Lung decompression indicator

Nimesh D. Naik, M.D., and Johnathon M. Aho, M.D., Ph.D., are creating a new technology for rapid detection and feedback to treat high pressure in the lungs after lung injury. Effective decompression of high lung pressure is lifesaving, but it is estimated that nearly 50 percent of decompressions fail. Drs. Naik and Aho's device turns from purple to yellow when effective decompression occurs, indicating that treatment is successful. This innovation has the potential to save a significant number of trauma patients in both civilian and military settings.

Minimally invasive left ventricular assist device (LVAD) wrench

David L. Joyce, M.D., is developing an add-on device to decrease the invasive nature of the existing procedure for replacing an LVAD when clotting (thrombosis) occurs. This approach would potentially provide a safer and far less invasive alternative to conventional LVAD surgery.

Pediatric atresia repair device

D. Dean Potter Jr., M.D., is developing a device to effectively and safely treat a debilitating congenital anomaly involving the disunion of the two ends of an infant's esophagus (esophageal atresia). Dr. Potter's device provides a unique solution that could decrease patient complications, decrease repeat operations and reduce anesthesia.

Posture sensor suit

Susan Hallbeck, Ph.D., is developing a suit for surgeons to wear in the operating room to monitor risk factors for ergonomic musculoskeletal disorder. The suit gives immediate feedback to tunable parameters and gives personalized reporting of an individual's risk factors for injury. Dr. Hallbeck's invention has the capacity to improve surgeon retention and improve care.

Surgical drain stripping tool

Robert (Rob) B. Hill, APRN, C.N.P., M.S.N., and Michael J. Thorn Jr., APRN, C.N.P., M.S.N., are creating a first-in-the-field dedicated device to safely and efficiently prevent or remove surgical drain tube obstructions. Their innovative prototype employs a robust and ergonomic design for clinicians and patients to routinely clear post-surgical drainage tubes.

Universal gas flow indicator

William R. Levenick, C.C.P., is the inventor of a novel device to tell if there is sufficient airflow during medical gas use. Airflow problems can be life-threatening in the operating room, in the hospital and after patients have gone home. This prototype gives instant reliable gas flow information, increasing patient safety and confidence. The device provides a simple solution to save time for clinicians and patients and eliminate some emergency room visits. It will reduce stress for both providers and patients and save lives.

Opportunities for innovators

The Surgery Research Center's Innovation Accelerator program supports all Mayo Clinic staff members who have ideas related to unmet patient needs in the surgical space, including:

  • Physicians
  • Scientists
  • Nurses
  • Allied health staff members
  • Fellows
  • Students

Opportunities offered by the Innovation Accelerator program include:

  • Funding opportunity for rapid device innovation creation. The Innovation Accelerator program seeks proposals for early-stage surgical device ideas. Importantly, applicants don't need existing prototypes to participate in this request for applications — all they need are ideas. Successful candidates work with Innovation Accelerator leadership to move their ideas from concept to "minimal viable prototype" in approximately 12 weeks.
  • Mayo Innovation Scholars Program. The Innovation Accelerator program partners with the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program — a collaborative initiative in Rochester, Minnesota, supported by the Medtronic Philanthropy, Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, Mayo Clinic, and Minnesota Private Colleges and Universities — to encourage undergraduate and graduate student experiential learning in medical device innovation. Visit the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program website.


Contact the Innovation Accelerator program for information about partnerships and support to advance surgical device technology.