Introducing your 2020 Ultimaker Innovators

Dr. Robert Pugliese

Director of Innovation Design, Innovation Pillar, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Health Design Lab, Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health – Philadelphia, USA

Dr. Robert Pugliese and the Jefferson Health Center Health Design Lab team
Dr. Robert Pugliese, center, and the Jefferson Health Center Health Design Lab team

The Health Design Lab (HDL) at Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University is home to the central clinical 3D printing hub for the Jefferson Health System. Dr. Robert Pugliese is the lab’s cofounder and Managing Director, as well as the Director of Innovation Design of the Innovation Pillar at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health.

At the HDL, Dr. Pugliese and a team of clinicians use a suite of desktop 3D printers to find ways to integrate sustainable 3D printing into a wide range of medical and educational applications.

A 3D printed medical model
A 3D printed medical model

“We have active projects in head and neck cancer surgery, high-risk obstetrics, interventional cardiology, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, nephrology, emergency medicine, and other medical and surgical training areas,” Dr. Pugliese says. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, the HDL was involved in numerous medical device and PPE projects at Jefferson that highlighted the importance of having an agile team of clinician innovators who are also experts in technology and design.”

A 3D printed model of a brain
A 3D printed model of a brain

Since 2016, designers and technicians at the HDL have made use of a FFF and SLA 3D printers to address patient-specific challenges. In addition to acting as Jefferson Health System’s 3D printing hub, the HDL also offers courses in medical 3D printing at Thomas Jefferson University, and has a Health Design Research Fellowship dedicated to medical imaging and 3D printing.

One of the most exciting things to me is how much benefit these technologies can provide when in the right hands. I’ve seen first-hand the power of a patient-specific model being used as a communication tool with a patient about to undergo a complex procedure. It’s the perfect example of true human-centered design.

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