News & Stories

Vahagn Ohanyan, M.D., Ph.D.

Shining a Light for Researchers

Vahagn Ohanyan holds both a medical degree and a Ph.D. – skills that go hand in glove when he’s in the research lab studying cardiovascular preclinical disease models, such as myocardial infarction, heart failure or chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy. Over his career, which began in Armenia and has continued with an appointment at NEOMED, Dr. Ohanyan has also found success in another field: as an inventor. When he sees a need, he researches and figures out a way to meet it — whether that means building his own sophisticated shish kebab oven (known as a  tonir) in his back yard or developing a product to help researchers perform surgery on mice.

Dr. Ohanyan developed his latest invention at his CRO (contract research organization)  lab in the Research, Entrepreneurship, Discovery and Invention Zone (REDIzone) at NEOMED—a place that supports his own company (Ohan Cardiovascular Innovations lab) in taking inventions from the lab to the marketplace. Recently, the physician-scientist has begun marketing a piece of equipment he designed to make it easier for researchers to do intubation (opening the airway with a tube to deliver anesthesia, medicine or oxygen) on mice for the preclinical trials that are conducted before humans are involved.

“In medical school, we are trained to do surgery on people, not on mice,” says Dr. Ohanyan. “But in the research lab, there you are with a tiny mouse and it’s not easy. You need to be precise and accurate.”

Consider the difficulty: A mouse’s mouth opening is just a half-centimeter in size. Additionally, mouse tissue – unlike  human skin or organs – offers  almost no resistance, making it incredibly easy to accidentally cause major damage. Dr. Ohanyan understood the issue for his fellow researchers and resolved to invent a device to make mouse intubation easier and safer.

The Ohan Rodent Intubation System has three components: the Ohan Fiber Light, a fiber cable and a laryngoscope. The most significant invention of the system is the laryngoscope, a one-hand operating device that is about four inches long and has a handgun shape. The laryngoscope is closed air system with a 5x magnifying lens attached to the unit. (Dr. Ohanyan settled on this amount after testing it on a large sample of male and female scientists of a wide range of ages and sizes – all factors that could impact their surgical ability.)

In these videos from his lab, Dr. Ohnanyan talks about the Ohan Rodent Intubation System and how to use it. Read the full story in the Spring 2020 issue of Ignite.