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We aim to design synthetic organ models to advance surgical preparation and give surgical students a humane, affordable, and accessible tool to practice with.




PhantomCor is a team of engineering students at the University of Illinois working to increase the accessibility of surgical simulators. Under the guidance of Dr. Wawrzyniec Dobrucki, PhantomCor has evolved from focusing on myocardial phantoms to tackling broader challenges in organ phantom design. Currently focusing on creating an affordable, realistic and cell free liver model, PhantomCor continues to work on improving the standards of tools in surgical education. Having started in 2015, the group has developed its design and business model through participation in entrepreneurship competitions, the iVenture Accelerator program, and the NSF I-Corps program.


October 2015

The University of Illinois Biomedical Engineering Society is pitched a cardiac imaging phantom project by Dr. Wawrzyniec Dobrucki. Hiba Shahid helms the project and a host of primarily bioengineering students join the team.

January 2016

Having studied heart phantoms available on the market, the team begins designing prototypic designs to address shortcomings in cost-efficiency, cross-platform imaging capabilities, and dynamic reconstitution of heart movement. Materials are explored for single heart ventricle model fabrication, and the pumping system begins development.

March 2016

The stepper motor driving the pumping apparatus is programmed to individual heart pulse waveforms, and the team’s progress is presented at UIUC’s annual Engineering Open House.

October 2016

PhantomCor travels to the 2016 Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Annual Meeting for both a poster presentation and a booth presentation with the UIUC BIOE department.

March & April 2017

The team presents at the Engineering Open House once again and is recognized as the Most Innovative project exhibited. PhantomCor also competes in the Cozad New Venture Competition, UIUC’s flagship entrepreneurship competition; placing 3rd amidst 100+ pitched ideas and projects, PhantomCor is awarded lab space, legal services, and prize money.

August 2017

PhantomCor officially incorporates to become a startup!

October 2017

PhantomCor returns to the BMES Annual Meeting for an oral presentation by Dr. Dobrucki, wins the UIUC Technology Entrepreneur Center’s Illinideas pitching competition, and showcases its progress through the new Carle-Illinois College of Medicine as an example of the synthesis of healthcare and technology.

November-December 2017

The team connects with industry leaders in cardiac phantom technology at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) Annual Meeting and is featured by the Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology.

January-February 2018

The PhantomCor team expands, bringing on three new members: a Mechanical Engineering Intern (Chris Chong), a Staff Engineering Intern (Rena Kanegae), and a Marketing Intern (Emma Lee). PhantomCor is also selected as a finalist for the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation’s Student Startup Award.

May-August 2018

PhantomCor is selected to participate in the iVenture Accelerator, a student startup incubator at the University of Illinois! CEO Hiba Shahid and VP of R&D Teresa Yang spend the summer developing PhantomCor’s business model and connecting with entrepreneurship resources in Chicago.

June-September 2018

The team is accepted to the National I-Corps Program! Hiba and Teresa begin connecting with and documenting customer needs, and they travel to Austin, TX, for mentorship on startup development.

October 2018

After conducting extensive customer discovery interviews, the team decides to pivot its focus from developing heart phantoms for imaging machine calibration and cardiac education to developing phantoms for several organ systems and with a focus on surgical practice and training.

November 2018 - March 2019

The team restructures itself to focus on producing a working liver prototype. The team also begins to explore how bleeding could be simulated from phantom models to aid with surgical practice.

March 2019

The team presents a prototype of a material that mimics the mechanical properties of a liver and presents it at EOH 2019.

October 2019-Present

PhantomCor recruits new additional interns and adds a materials team to further validate and quantify prototype.

Our Team

PhantomCor Team Members

  • Chris Chong

    Chris Chong

    Team Lead
  • Rena Kanegae

    Rena Kanegae

    Technical Lead
  • Craig Soares

    Craig Soares

    Senior Engineer
  • Monika Kizerwetter

    Monika Kizerwetter

    Senior Engineer
  • David Johnson

    David Johnson

    Materials Lead
  • Jairaj Narendran

    Jairaj Narendran

    Materials Engineering Intern
  • Lauren Samanic

    Lauren Samanic

    Business Intern
  • Ethan Tsai

    Ethan Tsai

    Bioengineering Intern
  • Andrew Ding

    Andrew Ding

    Bioengineering Intern