Tech Tonics: Dr. Carla Pugh on Serendipity and the Technology of Touch

 
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Dr. Carla Pugh does a lot of things. She is trauma surgeon, entrepreneur, researcher and educator and is officially a professor of surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine (she also went to UC Berkeley so Go Bears!) and also Director of the Technology-Enabled Clinical Improvement Center at Stanford.

Born into an entrepreneurial home, Carla started helping her mom at age 2 by filing computer punch cards. But she knew she wanted to be a doctor at the age of 5 and, specifically, a cranio-facial reconstructive surgeon at the age of 14 after seeing a movie about Dr. Paul Tessier, a renown cranio-surgical reconstructionist.

Her ultimate role as combination surgeon and entrepreneur grew out of Carla’s experience as a “maker” before that term even existed, handy with tools and determined to fix stuff in life and later in medicine. As a young girl, she didn’t want Barbies, she wanted a soldering iron and set about fixing other kids’ toys.

Today Carla runs a lab at Stanford where all sorts of interesting tools are invented to help physicians train, test their skills, and understand their limitations. Key among these are sensors and devices that provide feedback to physicians about their touch and the way they use their hands, which is key to so many diagnostic procedures. According to Carla, “sensors don’t lie” and doctors tend to believe the computer more than the faculty when it comes to testing skills in simulation labs, a task that not all physicians embrace, particularly when they find out they have been doing standard procedures wrong for years.

Carla says, “My career is a string of serendipitous and magical experiences.” We are delighted to have her on the show to describe them as only she can.

And we are grateful to Medidata for their sponsorship today. Medidata – the Intelligent Platform for Life Sciences that closes the loop between clinical development and commercialization to power smarter treatments and healthier people.

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