Chuck is inventor, entrepreneur, Emmy-Award-winning TV host, scientist, artist, and expressive raconteur. Chuck seeks the essence of any system, whether science, art, or technology. He's at home in novel situations. These tendencies have led Chuck to garner experience in surgical robotics, functional morphology, biomechanics, fluid dynamics, autonomous underwater vehicles, asteroid mining, ballistics, maritime communications, visual arts, entertainment effects, teaching, design, and performing. Chuck holds a stack of patents & publications in biology and engineering and has had a hundred exhibits of his paintings and sculpture. He's raised millions for research and business, is on his fourth startup, and has the nagging suspicion he’s become a serial entrepreneur.
Approached by longtime colleague Hugh Crenshaw about launching a medtech startup (Physcient), Pell was shocked into action by the mélange of venerable, if ancient, equipment in service alongside refined high-tech devices, even in the finest hospitals – and the fact that decades of mature biomechanical insights have yet to influence the design of many ubiquitous medical devices. For example, every 15 seconds a patient's rib cage is cracked open using a 75-year-old design; despite minimally invasive techniques and robotics, over 90% of thoracic surgeries are still open-chest. Having lost family to this state of affairs, he leapt at the chance. Chuck views the human body as a viscoelastic, fibrous biocomposite machine actuated by contractile polymers and, as such, it presents a clear choice: respect the physics of tissues, or cause damage. Since such damage is commonplace, unacceptable, and preventable, every project at Physcient is dedicated to improving patient outcomes by preventing tissue trauma through intelligent application of modern biomechanics - resulting in a cornucopia of radically effective new medtech.
Chuck is designing the next generation of surgical instruments: hand-held robotic smart tools that sense (and respond) to their environment, which includes the patient and her tissues. Cracking a rib cage with conventional steel tools makes recovery long and painful. In contrast, smart surgical tools smoothly adjust their motion to give the surgeon her best views and give the patient freedom from damage. "Change the instrument, not the procedure; prevent the damage, reduce the pain, speed recovery." Some surgical tools on the tray are millennia old, and Physcient is marching across that tray - for all our benefit.
Before Physcient, Chuck was Co-Founder and Director of Science & Technology of Nekton Research, LLC, a leader in unmanned underwater robots and expendable maritime devices. Nekton developed biomimetic subs, creating the world's fastest, the most maneuverable, the smallest, and the simplest underwater robots; Nekton was acquired in 2008 by iRobot four days before the crash. Chuck is Co-Inventor on platform technology for Parata Systems, a pharmaceutical robotics firm that has installed thousands of high-speed robots nationwide. Before Nekton, Chuck Co-founded (with Steve Wainwright) Duke University Zoology BioDesign, where researchers collaborated to build physical, working models of organisms. Prior to Duke, Chuck was Director of R&D at Dinamation, builder of full-size robotic dinosaurs and worldwide hands-on science exhibits. Fascinated by shape, pattern and flow, Chuck also builds boomerangs, paleolithic tools, catapults, and kayaks. He serves on several Boards, is an avid volunteer, occasionally sleeps, and lectures widely. Pell holds an MFA in Sculpture and Painting from the University of Notre Dame and a BFA in Sculpture and Video from Western Michigan University.
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