Kaleida Health’s Gates Vascular Institute, along with the adjoining UB Clinical Research Center, is all about discovery—for the professionals who work there doing cutting-edge research and care, and for our eighth graders, too, who made breakthroughs of their own as they toured the facility last week.
Dr. Adnan Siddiqui, an internationally known neurosurgeon (and EFS dad), spent a morning leading the students through the labs and operating rooms of this center of innovation, along with Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus president Matt Enstice (also an EFS dad!).
Here we share just a few of their amazing discoveries.
You don’t have to be a doctor or nurse to work in the medical field. Students got a chance to talk to a host of different people on the job, from the engineers who design digital simulations to test new procedures and devices and those that design and build those devices to the illustrator who creates detailed depictions of the inner recesses of the brain and other body parts. The skill sets that these professionals utilize range from mathematical to technological to artistic to verbal and beyond.
Collisions aren’t always bad things. The innovative facility was designed specifically to foster collaboration among the professionals working there. For too long, doctors have worked in what Dr. Siddiqui calls “silos,” isolated within their own specialties. The space encourages “collisions” that enable physicians and researchers from a range of disciplines to interact and work together.
Video games just may be educational after all. Vascular surgery involves doctors utilizing blood vessels to perform non-invasive surgical procedures on just about any part of the body. Tubes conveying the necessary instruments are guided through the vessels and controlled by tiny cameras, which project their images onto a screen. “All that time on the Wii—it helps,” said Dr. Siddiqui. “This technology is taking cues directly from video games.”
Failure is a part of growth. When asked why she chose her profession, an engineer in the Toshiba Stroke Center responded, “I like to solve problems.” But that doesn’t mean that’s all she ever does: some problems are harder to solve than others and require multiple attempts. Another engineer estimated that up to 95 percent of his efforts result in failure, but it’s that other five percent that keeps him—and the progress of the world—going.
Surroundings matter. The students appreciated the building’s decidedly modern appearance, with its large, light-filled spaces, creative lighting, slick materials, and bright colors. The cool style isn’t just for looks, however: the award-winning structure was designed specifically to foster the exchange of ideas by attracting people to core areas.
Buffalo is where it’s at. The Gates Vascular Institute is part of a larger effort to transform Buffalo into a world-class health care destination. “This exact structure does not exist anywhere else on the planet,” said Dr. Siddiqui of the unique model that delivers state-of-the-art clinical care as well as major research breakthroughs on the causes and treatment of diseases. As one staff member told the students: “People around the world are benefitting from what’s happening here.”
Wrinkles are good (at least on your brain). The highlight of the trip had to be when the students were able to see and even touch actual brains—two human brains, three dog brains, and, for comparison, a rat brain. Besides differences in size, the brain types also showed significant variances in texture. The human brain’s wrinkled channels and clefts allow it to maximize its surface area within the limited space of the skull. And you know that claim about people using only a small portion of their brains? Not true. “We use all of our brains,” said Dr. Siddiqui, “but it’s how we use them that makes the difference.”