MEDx Reflects: Exploring the medicine and engineering intersection with Andrew Muir

Andrew Muir, M.D., is a professor of medicine and Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology in the Department of Medicine at Duke. His personal clinical and research interest is in liver diseases. As an affiliated faculty member of MEDx, Muir sees the importance of the intersection between medicine and engineering.

Why are you interested in research at the intersection of medicine and engineering?

Gastroenterologists perform numerous endoscopic procedures and this field has progressed rapidly over the last 30 years. This has brought a culture of innovation to the field and clinicians are often wondering how they might improve their patient care through technology solutions.

How are you pursuing this intersection within your department or within your specific projects? 

My main goal has been to help my faculty find connections in the School of Engineering. Once my faculty articulate their clinical challenges or thoughts on a new technology, Geoff Ginsburg, director of MEDx, has been great at helping me make those connections.

How can you see the intersection between research, medicine and engineering playing out at Duke over the next few years?

We already had one new device that is headed to development now. I am hopeful that there will be multiple research collaborations resulting in new technologies. The experience of our gastroenterology faculty participating in collaborative research teams already makes this a success for me. They enjoy meeting and working with faculty across the campus. It is one of the things that attracted them to an academic clinical position, and they find it invigorating.

Why do you think this intersection is important for Duke?

There is tremendous talent in Medicine and Engineering, and the connections could lead to great advances in health care. It would be disappointing to not take full advantage of the talent. 

Do you feel there is a place for interdisciplinary training and education within the School of Medicine and Pratt?

I would love to see more interdisciplinary training. Although I can see multiple opportunities, I would love to see some of our physician scientists with clinical training in gastroenterology and research training in engineering. I am not aware of many people with that background, and the field lends itself so well to that path.