Medical professionals use WSU expertise for surgical tool development

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

With help from WSU Ventures at Wichita State University, obstetrician-gynecologist resident Rachel Wykes hopes to improve a device that is used commonly in the medical industry.

While most of the devices, practices and technology used in the medical field are efficient and ergonomic, Wykes noticed an opportunity for improving the efficiency of a common  gynecologic surgery through the development of a new cautery tool. As a resident at Wesley Medical Center, she approached her attending physician with the concept, who introduced her to Tom Aldag, director of research and development at WSU’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR).

Well known in the aviation industry for the quality of its research and testing capabilities, NIAR has also worked with clients from various engineering disciplines. NIAR’s Center of Innovation for Biomaterials in Orthopaedic Research (CIBOR) specializes in biomedical engineering. The staff at CIBOR began working with Wykes and her husband Matt Wykes to develop a working prototype.

CIBOR dealt with the technical side of the project, Alan Goodnight, director of strategic investments for WSU Ventures, stepped in to handle the financial aspects.” 

Last spring, the Wykeses, through their company, RayMed, began working with Goodnight.

In an effort to make the development process more affordable, RayMed entered into an agreement with WSU Investments Corp. In exchange for the technical and business expertise from the university, a portion of the company’s profits will be shared with WSU Investments. 

“It’s not possible for an individual to accomplish what we’re trying to without a partnership like this,” Rachel Wykes said. “They have been generous with their ideas and with applying their experience. Alan and Tom are genuinely passionate about helping ideas get off the ground.”

“The mentorship has gone much beyond the business,” Matt Wykes said. “The relationship has gone from a business relationship to a friendship to mutual respect.”

Aldag and Goodnight were also instrumental in securing $50,000 from the Kansas Board of Regents for the product development. With the financial obligations eased, the Wykeses were able to focus on addressing technical challenges.

Through the partnership, the Wykeses are receiving technical advice and resources from WSU during the development process. Kim Reuter, a research engineer at NIAR, is assisting with prototype development.

“We developed a lot of different designs, all of which had exciting potential,” said Reuter. “Through a series of experiments, material evaluations and customer feedback, we were able to identify a design for further development.”

Wichita State University’s WSU Ventures assists faculty, staff and students in developing and making ideas commercially viable. WSU Ventures links partners and entrepreneurs from various industries with WSU researchers and technologies to facilitate the materialization of ideas in today’s competitive markets.

Contact: Tracee Friess, director of communication, research and technology transfer, 316-978-5597 or