Eighth Graders View Live Robotic Surgery

NEWARK—As surgeons perform more minimally invasive procedures with smaller incisions and decreased recovery times, robotic surgery is fast becoming the procedure of choice for many surgeons and patients.

Recently 27 eighth grade students from schools across New Jersey had the opportunity to observe a robotic surgery through a live, interactive broadcast with Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (NBIMC) and New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). The Robotic Partial Nephrectomy procedure (removal of a portion of the kidney) was performed by Brent Yanke, MD, MPH, on Thursday, Aug. 4 at NBIMC.


The College of Computing Sciences Capstone Open University at NJIT provides young people with unique real world learning experiences with an emphasis on interdisciplinary skills and strategic problem-solving methods.

“I love participating in this kind of project and providing an opportunity for students to view live surgery,” says Dr. Yanke. “You never know what might influence a young person to follow a career in medicine or engineering or computer science. On a personal note, I majored in art history, in addition to neuroscience, largely because of an AP History class in high school and an influential teacher who shared his knowledge.”

Dr. Yanke was one of two urologists and a general surgeon who performed New Jersey’s first robotic bladder creation surgery on a 63-year-old Belleville resident in 2007. For the interactive broadcast, he performed the removal of a kidney tumor from a male patient.

As Dr. Yanke performed the hour and a half procedure in one of NBIMC’s operating rooms, students gathered in the auditorium to see a video feed directly from the robot, giving them the same view as the surgeon, all in real time. Dr. Yanke narrated his progress and students could ask questions with the assistance of Nick DeMayo, the Clinical Sales Representative from Intuitive Surgical Inc. who moderated the procedure and passed the questions to Dr. Yanke through a microphone system.

“They asked intelligent questions that ranged from specifics about the procedure to why I became interested in robotic surgery,” Dr. Yanke says. “They were very curious and engaged.”

NBIMC provides science and technology students with the opportunity to watch the future of medical technology in the form of a surgical robot. The program has even been broadcast overseas, going live to high school students in two communities in Scotland last September.

Many students report that they feel encouraged to join the healthcare field after this fascinating experience.

“It is rewarding for our surgical team members to share their expertise and skill and to encourage the next generation of physicians, medical professionals and engineers,” says John A. Brennan, MD, Executive Director of NBIMC. “We are pleased to partner with NJIT to inspire and challenge these New Jersey students to become the health care leaders of the future.”

First Row: Karlin Yeh, Livingston; Gage Farestad, Livingston; Rebecca Sichel, Englewood; Sabrina Victor, Orange; Amanda Schwartz, West Orange; Pooja Upadhyay, Sayreville; Vijay Menon, Martinsville; Mariam Katu Binti, Elizabeth; George Cupidon, Orange; Ivana Chu, Livingston; Bria Wood, Orange; Brian Lee, Livingston; Fan Tang, Livingston. Second Row: Matthew Ho, Lincroft; Timothy Miller, Hawthorne; Marisol Tamayo, Orange; Vonashie Duval, Orange; Shivani Ramjit, Orange; Kristen Davis, Orange; Shubha Kapuginti, Parsippany. Third Row: Mohammad Haque, Orange; Adrienne Romero, Jersey City; Rabeeta Aroosh, Elizabeth; Estefany Alvarado, Newark; Brian Cruz, Elizabeth; Marlin Boswell, Orange; Stanley Cheung, Livingston (Photo courtesy of NBIMC)

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