Henry Lin: Virtual Reality Surgical Simulation: “It’s not just a game. It’s a matter of saving lives.”

February 3, 2016 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
B17 Hackerman Hall
Greg Hager


Increasingly, robotic technologies are targeting the general public.  The adoption of these technologies depends on understanding the human-machine user experience. Research in how users learn to use a technology (learning curves) and how to train users (training methodologies) are crucial in driving its success. Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci surgical system is an interesting case study on how a complex machine can positively impact a highly technical and sensitive field – surgery.  To augment the hands-on training of the da Vinci, the company introduced the VR-based da Vinci Skills Simulator. The Skills Simulator provides hands-on technical training on the surgeon console. In addition to the cost and time benefits of training on the simulator, it also provides various forms of feedback and evaluation. This talk will discuss the research that goes into developing an effective VR-based surgical simulator – from designing modules with clear training goals to developing proper metrics for feedback and analysis to implementing proper scoring systems to scientifically validating the modules.



Henry Lin manages the Surgical Simulation Development and Research Team at Intuitive Surgical. He started in the Medical Research Group investigating surgical skill evaluation. He then moved to the Simulation Group to apply his research within the surgical simulation environment. He received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 2010 – in the Computational Interaction and Robotics Lab under the guidance of Dr. Gregory Hager. His dissertation research, “Surgical Motion”, focused on understanding surgeon technical skill through the analysis of da Vinci kinematics data and video. He received the 2005 MICCAI Best Student Paper Award and the Link Fellowship for his work. Post-JHU, Dr. Lin spent 2 years as a Post-Doc in the NIAAA at NIH understanding brain morphology changes due to alcohol abuse.  He maintains his academic interests – publishing research manuscripts, serving as a reviewer for technical conferences, including MICCAI and M2CAI, and reviews for Intuitive Surgical’s clinical and technical grant programs. Dr. Lin also has degrees in Computer Science from Columbia University and Carnegie Mellon University.