Research Featured in Milwaukee Magazine

Milwaukee Magazine

Watch your newsstand for the February issue of Milwaukee Magazine. Research at Aurora Health Care is featured in the cover story “10 Medical Breakthroughs.” Aurora scientists and physicians are involved in 4 out of the 10 innovations in the article, with all 4 prominently noted on the magazine cover.

These medical innovations include a breast cancer detection wand, heart valve replacements that are implanted through catheters, a cooling blanket that protects brain function and Aurora’s biobank, the Open-Source Robotic Biorepository & Informatics Technology (ORBIT).

Breast Cancer Wand Detection

The breast cancer detection wand is a new device currently called FastPath. It will potentially enable surgeons to search for cancer cells in vivo (in the body) or in excised tissue in the lab, using a pencil-sized probe that emits both visual and auditory signals to determine whether cancer is present.

Ultimately, FastPath will help determine if they have removed all cancerous tissue from the breast. This remarkable combination of bioscience and engineering is the result of a collaboration between the breast oncology team at Aurora and NovaScan, LLC, which is led by William Gregory, PhD. Breast Cancer WandDr. Gregory is the chairman of the board and chief scientific officer at NovaScan.

This research project is being conducted at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center and Aurora Sinai Medical Center in collaboration with Aurora breast cancer surgeons Wendy Mikkelson, MD, and Judy Tjoe, MD.


William GregoryDr. William Gregory, PhD

Chairman of the Board and Chief Scientific Officer of NovaScan, LLC





Judy TjoeJudy Tjoe, MD

Breast Oncology Surgeon





Wendy MikkelsonWendy Mikkelson, MD

Breast Oncology Surgeon








Heart Valve Replacements

The heart valve innovation is the focus of a clinical research trial being performed at Aurora, thetranscatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) study. This procedure is similar to balloon valvuloplastyin that it uses a catheter to implant a prosthetic valve in place of a diseased aortic valve.

TAVI heart valve procedure

Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center was the first in Wisconsin to offer this new artificial valve that can be implanted without open heart surgery. More than 100 TAVI procedures have been performed by Aurora’s interventional cardiology team, which includes echocardiography, anesthesia, catheter lab and research coordinator professionals.

This team is led by Tanvir Bajwa, MD, and Daniel O’Hair, MD. Dr. Bajwa is among a handful of cardiologists in Wisconsin authorized to perform some of the most advanced procedures currently available. Dr. O'Hair serves as director of the Surgical Robotics Program at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center.


Tanvir Bajwa, MDTanvir K. Bajwa, MD

Cardiovascular Disease





Daniel OHaireDaniel P. O'Hair, MD

Surgery: Cardiovascular and Thoracic







Cooling Blanket

The Thermochromic Cooling Blanket is designed to provide immediate treatment to patients experiencing cardiac arrest, stroke, shock, asphyxia and other conditions. The blanket allows caregivers to immediately initiate a controlled and effective cooling process to lower an individual’s temperature with the goal of preventing brain damage.

Thermochromic Cooling BlanketThe patient is wrapped in a flexible insulated blanket made of multiple cells that can be selectively activated to control temperature reduction. Each cell contains two solutions separated by a membrane. An endothermic reaction takes place that absorbs heat when the membrane in the cell is broken. Thermochromic ink sensors allow caregivers to monitor temperature. Aurora Sinai Medical Center prenatal and perinatal medicine practitioner, Charles Potter, MD, and Medical ThermoDynamics, LLC are developing the Thermochromic Cooling Blanket with support from Aurora.


Charles PotterCharles Potter, MD

Prenatal and Perinatal Medicine








ORBITThe Open-Source Robotic Biorepository & Informatics Technology center at Aurora is an automated genomic library of blood samples linked to patients’ electronic health records (EHR). These samples are used to test new technologies and evaluate new therapies for the purpose of advancing personalized medical care.

Each year, Aurora serves 1.2 million people in some of Wisconsin’s most diverse communities. When patients agree to participate in the biobank, blood left over from their medical tests is sent to the ORBIT lab where DNA is robotically extracted, and the sample is bar-coded and stored in a freezer. Identifying information is stripped from the records.

Supported by Aurora, the largest health care system in Wisconsin, ORBIT promises to be one of the most sizable and diverse open-source biorepositories in the world. ORBIT manager Natalie Polinskehas worked with the program since 2008 and played an integral role in the start-up operations. She continues to manage the program with a focus on building partnerships and collaborations to allow researchers the benefit of the biorepository’s sample and data resources.


Natalie PolinskeNatalie Polinske, MS

Manager, ORBIT





These innovative research projects were supported by the Aurora Foundation and Aurora Ventures in collaboration with Research.