Peter Kazanzides

Peter Kazanzides

Research Professor
Dept. of Computer Science
Johns Hopkins University

Bio from Dept. of Computer Science


Peter Kazanzides
Johns Hopkins University
Laboratory for Computational Sensing and Robotics
120 Hackerman Hall
3400 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218

Phone: 410 516 5590
Fax: 410 516 5553

Lab webpage: SMARTS Lab

Research Statement

My research is in the field of computer-assisted surgery, with particular emphasis in robotic assistance. Surgical robotics requires a partnership between man and machine and this partnership must operate in an unstructured environment with constraints on visibility, accessibility and sterility. I have focused on the integration of information from various sources, such as preoperative and intraoperative imaging and force sensing, to address these challenges. My current research interests include the implementation of virtual fixtures and the integration of real-time imaging, such as video and ultrasound, to enable robotic assistance in more challenging environments, such as minimally invasive surgery and microsurgery. These computer-assisted surgery applications have motivated the development of enabling infrastructure, including hardware, software, and systems architectures. A surgical robot, with associated information sources, generally requires concurrent processing, with low-latency exchange of information. The emergence of multi-core processors and high-speed serial networks has led to a new paradigm for system design. Traditionally, high-speed networks provide a means to distribute computation between multiple processors, including embedded microprocessors. While this is still an attractive option, it is also possible to distribute just the hardware interfaces and perform all computations in a single multi-core processor. We are creating hardware devices, such as motor controllers, that are accessible via IEEE-1394 (Firewire). Unlike other Firewire-based devices, these boards do not contain a microprocessor, but rather an FPGA that enables direct access to the hardware. On the software side, we are developing an architecture that supports safe and efficient multi-threaded software design. Multi-threading is efficient because the threads share an address space; it can also be dangerous for the same reason. My research includes the application of component-based software engineering concepts, such as mechanisms for loose coupling, to facilitate the development of safe and efficient multi-threaded software.

Current Projects


    • Integration of JHU Steady Hand robot and Medtronic Stealthstation (via Stealthlink interface)
    • Initial application is skull-base drilling
    • Compact system that provides cone-beam CT imaging and radiation delivery for small animal research.
    • Four-axis robot that mounts in place of needle template for transrectal ultrasound guided (TRUS) prostate brachytherapy
    • Robot positions and orients the needle guide
    • Clinician manually inserts the needle; depth is measured by custom optical sensor (0.5 mm accuracy)
  • Robotically-assisted surgical workstation for osteoporotic bone augmentation
    • Collaboration with JHU Applied Physics Lab
  • Microsurgical robots
    • Currently focusing on retinal microsurgery

Systems and Infrastructure

    • The cisst package is a collection of libraries designed to ease the development of computer assisted intervention systems.
    • A framework that combines robotics, stereo vision, and intraoperative imaging, such as ultrasound, to enhance a surgeon’s capabilities for minimally-invasive surgery.
    • Platform for robot-assisted surgery with integrated, enhanced visualization
    • Platform for assistive robot with arms and hands
    • Dissemination of software, mechatronics, and hardware.
  • Custom electronics for motor control
    • Low Power Motor Controller (LoPoMoCo): ISA board that provides I/O and power amplifiers for small DC motors (4 channels)
    • IEEE-1394 Motor Controller: Embedded board set that provides I/O and power amplifiers for small DC motors (in development)
    • Custom VLSI chip for motor control (with N. Ekekwe and R. Etienne-Cummings, JHU ECE)
  • Intelligent management and dissemination of research information
    • Collaboration with LeeRoy Bronner, Morgan State University
    • Develop information design and delivery methodologies that communicate current and on-going research information.
  • Model-driven architecture for medical device middleware
    • Collaboration with LeeRoy Bronner, Morgan State University
    • Create platform-independent models (PIMs) that can be automatically translated to platform-specific models (PSMs) that support new interface standards (middleware), as they evolve. Focus on models, not code.
  • Small hybrid surgical tracking system
    • Collaboration with Fraunhofer IPA, Stuttgart Germany
    • Use sensor fusion to create a tracking system with high accuracy but no line-of-sight requirement.

Past Projects

  • Image-Guided Robot for Small Animal Research
  • Modular Robot Controller II (MRC-II)
    • This project has been superseded by the CISST libraries.


  • Electrical Engineering, Brown University, May 1988
    • Thesis: Multiprocessor Control of Robotic Manipulators
      • Designed and constructed a real-time multiprocessor system (SIERA),which was used for two different robots. Developed and implemented a compliant control strategy which enables a robot to interact with an imprecisely known environment.
  • Sc.M. in Applied Mathematics, Brown University, May 1987
  • Sc.M. in Electrical Engineering, Brown University, May 1985
    • Thesis: A Microprocessor-Based Control System with Robotics Applications
      • Modeled a hydraulic actuator and designed digital control laws. Analyzed the effects of non-linearities in the model and the control laws and presented experimental results to verify the theory.
  • Sc.B. in Electrical Engineering and A.B in Computer Science, Brown University, May 1983

Professional Experience

  • Research Professor, Dept. of Computer Science, Johns Hopkins Univ., Baltimore, MD (2014 – present)
  • Associate Research Professor, Dept. of Computer Science, Johns Hopkins Univ. (2008-2014)
  • Assistant Research Professor, Dept. of Computer Science, Johns Hopkins Univ. (2002-2008)
    • Research in computer integrated surgery and enabling systems and infrastructure. Research projects include development of robot systems for small animal research, integration of navigation system and robot for neurosurgery, hybrid surgical tracking sytem, and robot systems for prostate brachytherapy, bone augmentation, and microsurgery. Manage engineering staff developing hardware and software infrastructure for research.
  • Co-founder and Director of Robotics and Software, Integrated Surgical Systems, Davis, CA (November 1990 – June 2002)
    • Formed ISS to develop and commercialize the ROBODOCĀ® System for orthopedic surgery. Designed and implemented the electronics and software, achieving major improvements in the user interface, safety systems, accuracy (calibration), maintainability and cost. Worked with robot manufacturer to customize industrial robot for medical use. Participated in ISO9001 certification and CE marking, including EMC certification for emissions and immunity. Obtained 510(K) clearance from FDA for ORTHODOC planning system. Program Manager for $4 million NIST ATP joint venture (ISS, IBM and Johns Hopkins University) investigating the application of robotics to total hip revision surgery. Extensive involvement with customers, including system installation, training of personnel, support during surgical procedures, system maintenance, trade show demonstrations and marketing support.
  • Visiting Associate Research Engineer, Univ. of California, Davis, CA (March 1990 – November 1990
    • Continued work on hip replacement robot that was started as joint project between IBM and U.C. Davis. Brought robot into veterinary operating room, where it was used for 26 canine surgeries, all successful.
  • Post-Doctoral Researcher, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY (March 1989 – March 1990)
    • Participated in joint project between IBM and U.C. Davis to develop a robot for total hip replacement surgery, which eventually became the ROBODOCĀ® System. Integrated force sensor, pitch axis, and signal processor with IBM robot and developed compliant control strategies and robot software.