Medtech’s Rising Stars of 2017

We’re celebrating brilliant, budding minds in the medical technology field. These innovators, all under 30 years old, have racked up outsized achievements.

  • Medtech’s Rising Stars 2017

    We’re celebrating brilliant, budding minds in the medical technology field. These innovators, all under 30 years old, have racked up outsized achievements.

     

    This summer, we sought nominations for the young people shaking up the world of medical technology. We asked nominees for more details on their work and now we’re sharing their incredible successes and impressive goals.

    Some of these Rising Stars have always been drawn to medical technology while a few found themselves excelling in the area after gaining experience in design and engineering. A couple of the honorees were motivated by health tragedies that affected their loved ones.

    Read on to learn more about the accomplishments of these nine inventors, entrepreneurs, and researchers who will be shaping the medical technology field for years to come.

    Some responses have been slightly edited for clarity.

    [Image courtesy of MASTER ISOLATED IMAGES/FREEDIGITALPHOTOS.NET]

  • Aaron Chang

     

    Aaron Chang, 25—Cofounder and CEO of Renalert LLC; Design Engineer at PlenOptika Inc.

     

    Aaron Chang redefines what it means to have a busy work schedule. He works for two companies, Renalert LLC and PlenOptika Inc., and also works independently as a medical device consultant. As the cofounder and CEO of Renalert LLC, Chang is in charge of business development and product development coordination. He and his team are working on an early detection system for acute kidney injury. The company is testing alpha prototypes in clinical settings at several academic institutions. PlenOptika Inc., where Chang is a design engineer, is developing the QuickSee portable autorefractor, for use in developed and developing settings.

     

    Chang already has impressive credentials in the medical device world. He has designed a few products, including a device for laparoscopic surgery that was licensed to LapSpace Medical and a defibrillation patch system—the PrestoPatch—that is seeking licensing and won gold in the US Patent and Trademark Office’s Collegiate Inventor’s Competition. He also presented a training model for vaginal assessments during labor and delivery in the developing world at the American College of Nurses and Midwives annual meeting.

     

    What’s next—in his own words: For Renalert, we are currently raising our seed round and will be using the proceeds to further our clinical testing and product finalization. For PlenOptika, we will be launching our first production devices this fall to affect eyecare around the world.

     

    What are the biggest factors that helped you become a young innovator? The Johns Hopkins ecosystem has been invaluable as the starting point of my medtech career. I was able to start shadowing surgeries my freshman fall, and I don't know too many other places where you're expected to invent something clinically useful during the first several months on campus. Training there for my undergraduate and masters degrees in biomedical engineering innovation has played a huge role. My parents have been very supportive of me as well and have always encouraged me to go after big problems.

     

    What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far? “Transitioning to focus on more of the business development side of medical innovation has presented a bit of a learning curve. Learning how to make pitching second nature as well as representing the company throughout due diligence has allowed me to experience and adapt on the fly.

     

    Is it becoming easier or harder for young people to have an impact in medical technology, and why? I think that with the increasing democratization of information in the digital age, it's so much easier for young people to outmaneuver larger corporations and make an impact. There are so many problems with our healthcare delivery system, and as long as someone's willing to put in the hours of engaging with the system first hand—observing surgeries, patient interactions, and asking questions—they can fuse their experiences with those reported in literature to create a vantage point no one else in the world necessarily possesses.

     

    [Image courtesy of AARON CHANG]

  • Clémence Franc

     

    Clémence Franc, 27—Cofounder and CEO of NovaGray

     

    Franc cofounded NovaGray, a company developing predictive tests to determine before treatment which patients will develop severe complications from radiotherapy. “The objective is to help radiation oncologists personalize the treatment of their patients,” she said.

     

    She earned degrees from engineering and business schools—Ecole Spéciale des Travaux Public et de l’Industrie (ESTP, Paris) and Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC, Paris)—and was motivated by her interest in the medical field, innovation, and entrepreneurship. While in school, Franc worked with researchers at The Gustave Roussy Institute, a prestigious cancer center, on a startup. Her cofounder, a radiation oncologist in France, sought her leadership on the project, and Franc took on the responsibility of research and development, fundraising, intellectual property, human resources management, market access, and more for NovaGray.

     

    What’s next—in her own words:

    “We are developing tests for breast, prostate, and lung cancer, which are the three most frequent cancers treated by radiotherapy. Our first test for breast cancer was validated in a prospective clinical trial and CE-marked in early 2016. My objective is to get official reimbursement so that the test can be used in clinical routine and have an impact on patients’ treatment. In parallel, we are pursuing all the clinical validation of our prostate and lung cancer tests. Reaching these objectives implies getting funding and building a strong team to execute our plan; these are my current challenges.”

     

    What are the biggest factors that helped you become a young innovator?

    “Personally speaking, it is having big dreams and thinking that everything is possible if you work hard enough and persevere. Being young, you need to be aware of your limits and that you need to be surrounded by people who have expertise and experience but thinking in no way that your age is a barrier.”

     

    What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far?

    “When you bring a transformative innovation that is not replacing any existing technology to the market, it takes a lot of time and you need to think differently. My biggest challenge is to implement a smart strategy so that our innovation can be disseminated as fast as possible and improve the way radiotherapy is currently being delivered.”

     

    Is it becoming easier or harder for young people to have an impact in medical technology, and why?

    “It is becoming easier! Public grants enable you to work on your innovation and reach important milestones to convince investors and/or early adopters. People with expertise and experience are more and more willing to help young people through advisory boards for example. And you have a lot more bridges between medicine/engineering and business, which helps us think in a broader way and naturally pushes us to innovate.”

     

    [Image courtesy of CLÉMENCE FRANC]

  • Zhifei Ge

    Zhifei Ge

     

    Zhifei Ge—29, Cofounder and Chief Technology Officer of Cam Med LLC

     

    Ge cofounded Cam Med LLC, a company developing the Evopump, a bandage-like patch pump for subcutaneous delivery of medications. He explained, “Its thin and flexible design renders it invisible under clothing and unobtrusive during sleep and daily activities, overcoming physical and psychological barriers inhibiting patient from wearing pumps, while enabling it to be manufactured for one-third the cost of existing patch pumps.” The innovation has been awarded prizes and grants, including Gold in the MassChallenge in 2014, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space/Boeing prize for Technology in Space, and a Universal Partnership grant from the Massachusetts Life Science Center. Cam Med LLC is participating in the M2D2 medtech incubator in Lowell, MA, has raised $400,000 in non-dilutive grants and awards, and is closing its seed investment round.

     

    As chief technology officer of Cam Med, Ge leads engineering development, focuses on intellectual property strategies, builds partnerships with Chinese pharmaceutical companies, and works with the company’s chief executive on fundraising and other business strategies. His graduate work included development of microfluidic devices for high-efficiency delivery of DNA into cells, a portable 3-D imaging-based otoscope, and a pressure ulcer prevention system. Ge earned his PhD from MIT with a concentration in bioinstrumentation and medical devices.

     

    What’s next—in his own words:

    “Since transitioning to be full time at Cam Med LLC, I have been taking on the full responsibility of leading R&D in the company. Our plan is to commercialize in indication-specific partnerships. I will lead the development of Evopump independently through the stage of validating performance in bench and animal tests, and then we can enter partnerships with incumbent pharma/device companies to complete clinical trials (in indications where required), 510(k) and CE submission, and market launch. As a young entrepreneur in the medtech space, I just hope I can learn fast enough.”

     

    What are the biggest factors that helped you become a young innovator?

    “The entrepreneurship-encouraging environment at MIT is the real catalyst for me to become a young innovator. I have been deeply influenced by the culture at MIT that encourages impacting the world through technology. The other factor is that my dad died of lung cancer. That experience really affects me and makes me understand how important any person’s life can be. With my background in mechanical engineering, medtech became my obvious choice and passion.”

     

    What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far?

    “The biggest challenge for me as the CTO at a medtech startup has been the need to learn so many things. It includes not just engineering skills, but also business skills, such as strategic partnership, negotiation, regulatory, and legal aspects. Challenging my comfort zone to learn about all these things that I never learned about in school has been challenging as well as enjoyable for me.”

     

    Is it becoming easier or harder for young people to have an impact in medical technology, and why?

    “I think it has become easier to get into the medtech field, but to really make an impact, it takes patience and effort. Online education like edX and Coursera has lowered the entry barrier to the field. But with increasingly challenging regulations, to really make an impact, a lot of things must happen. All of these things take time.”

     

    [Image courtesy of ZHIFEI GE]

  • Michael Hemati

     

    Michael Hemati, 27—Senior R&D Engineer at Theranova; CEO of Leo Labs; General Manager at TruKinetics

     

    As a senior R&D engineer at San Francisco-based medical device innovation studio Theranova, Hemati heads two medical device startups. Leo Labs is creating a novel noninvasive neuromodulation device to treat migraines and TruKinetics is developing the first intraperitoneal artificial pancreas. He works on product development, commercialization, and fundraising for the companies. Before Theranova, Hemati cofounded SmartDerm, a pressure ulcer monitoring and prevention company. He is still an advisor to the company.

     

    Hemati has a Masters of Translational Medicine from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, San Francisco, and earned his Biomedical Engineering degree from The University of Texas at Austin.

     

    What’s next—in his own words:

    “We’re currently in the process of raising our seed round for Leo Labs and TruKinetics to carry us through our next phase of device development and begin pilot studies. We’ve gathered promising preliminary data for both companies and are now developing our next-generation consumer facing products. At Leo Labs we’re aiming to run a small at-home pilot study in migraine patients to gather usability and treatment efficacy data. Using findings from this study, we plan to raise the capital necessary to run a larger at-home pivotal trial for FDA approval. We’re also exploring the use of the technology for treating other neurological conditions, such as over-active bladder and post-traumatic headaches in Veterans. At TruKinetics we’re planning to manufacture our first prototypes for bench testing and animal studies to show durability and safety data. Our goal is to complete these tests in the next year and apply for CE Mark to begin commercialization in Europe and conduct further clinical trials.”

     

    What are the biggest factors that helped you become a young innovator?

    “My dad and brother are both engineers and it was my dad who taught me how to fix things around the house. This ignited my passion for building and designing. I remember spending weekends helping him fix cars in the garage and the endless back-and-forth trips to Home Depot. However, I was drawn to biomedical engineering when my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and learned about the novel treatments happening at Stanford, where she was treated. Biomedical engineering was a newer field, and it allowed me to combine my passions for design, engineering, and medicine. Knowing I could have an impact on people’s lives was exciting to me. I also have to give a huge thank you to all my mentors who have given me so many wonderful opportunities and still continue to mentor me. I guarantee I wouldn’t be where I am at now if it wasn’t for them. I’d like to thank Adam Berman, CEO at TVA Medical, who gave me my first internship and insight to the startup world and how fun it can be; Dr. Larry Kravitz, a Physician at Austin Regional Clinic, and cofounder of my first startup venture during my time at UT; Dr. Hanmin Lee at UCSF and cofounder of SmartDerm who believed in me and shared my passion for helping patients; and Dr. Daniel Burnett, Founder and CEO at Theranova, who has given me the opportunity to learn beside him in my new ventures. But, I also can’t forget my friend Brian who gave me my first Lego set in elementary school, which really sparked my engineering passion. Yes, it was a Star Wars set.”

     

    What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far?

    “As a biomedical engineer, you learn a very broad set of skills. Having worked on a variety of projects, I never became an expert in one area. The biggest challenge has been learning as much as I can to become a subject matter expert around each of our technologies. I knew little to nothing about wound care, diabetes, or pain management when starting these ventures. I’ve spent many hours reading journal publications and textbooks, learning about competitive technologies. However, I’ve learned the quickest way to get an answer is to ask—speak with as many patients and world experts as you can. And keep asking along every step of the process. I am on a journey and I know I will always be learning. One must carry themselves with confidence and the willingness to learn and to be taught. You can’t do it alone, so ask for help.”

     

    Is it becoming easier or harder for young people to have an impact in medical technology, and why?

    “In my generation it has become easier, especially with early-stage innovations. The innovations are endless, however, I think the challenge will be in commercializing and getting these new technologies to market and helping patients. However, I’m more excited to see what the next generation of innovators will come up with. With almost universal access to the internet and living in a society that is surrounded by tech since the day they were born, I believe the next generation of innovators will be incredibly young. It’s crazy for me to see kids learning how to program in elementary school—I just remember watching Bill Nye the Science Guy. Last summer, I mentored a high school intern at Theranova and learned she was taking Arduino and industrial design courses in high school—I was just taking AP Chemistry and doing CAD drawings on paper. During her short time she was able to develop a prototype and run a pilot test to collect data—I was quite impressed. She just started her freshman year at Cal Poly; I expect great things from her and who knows, maybe she’ll be on this list soon too. Remember, you’re never too young to have an impact!”

     

    [Image courtesy of MICHAEL HEMATI]

  • James Roberts

    James Roberts, 25—Founder and CEO of mOm Incubators Ltd

     

    Roberts didn’t set out to start a medical device company. He studied design and engineering, but during his senior year of college, he was inspired to start mOm Incubators Ltd while working on a project that tasked him with designing a product that solved a problem. He explains that while trying to find a suitable idea, he watched a documentary on the Syrian refugee crisis that showed how the lack of incubators for refugee populations was leading to the loss of a generation of children. The initial concept for mOm Incubators “was to be able to fit an entire incubation system inside of a care package that an NGO could deliver,” Roberts said. The device was designed to be collapsible, lightweight, and inflatable.

     

    At Roberts’ final year degree show, the Sir James Dyson team asked him to enter its innovation competition; the mOm Incubator design won the 2014 James Dyson Award. The company was incorporated soon after. “I have always been attracted to the [medical] field and was torn by the time I came my undergraduate studies of the choice between Bioengineering or Product Design,” Roberts said. “I still find it interesting that I have ultimately come back to more Bioengineering but would like to think I have a different lens on problems having studied Product Design.”

     

    What’s next—in his own words:

    We are currently conducting usability and acceptability trials with our first device as we approach design freeze and work towards certification and commercialization. We are growing our team so we can support this and start to develop a pipeline of products for the future.”

     

    What are the biggest factors that helped you become a young innovator?

    “I think the biggest factor for being able to become a young innovator has been both the backing of my family and the people around me who have supported me in my goals. Finding them has been a mixture of grit, determination, and good luck, but they have all been instrumental in putting me on the path to achieve my ambitions. The medical device field is naturally quite complex so you need the best mentors, team members, and experience to surround you at all times.”

     

    What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far?

    “I think coming into the field from a non-medical background without previous knowledge of how the industry really worked has been challenging and sometimes frustrating, but it can also open up the possibility of being able to do things in new ways. I have always wanted to try and improve other people’s lives and I think the best way to do that is both a mixture of entrepreneurship and technology. The medical technology field mixes those two areas very naturally, so when I was working on mOm in my final year of study I really found a raw passion for what I was doing and the potential impact it could have in the world. This ultimately is really what pushes me past the hurdles and challenges that occur every day so we can find new and bigger ones to tackle that ultimately all lead to trying to effect change.”

     

    Is it becoming easier or harder for young people to have an impact in medical technology, and why?

    “I think it is difficult for anyone to have an impact in medical technology, not just young people, but the challenge for young people is slightly different.

    I think this question has to be split into two phases—the innovation phase and the execution phase. The innovation phase, or the beginning, I believe has now become easier for young people to have an impact. There is now a lot of support for new ideas and young people are now given a space and a voice to express what they have done or are trying to do much more than before. Previously, I imagine that it would be hard to get in front of the right people without having years of prior experience. This is both a good and a bad thing. It is good as it allows ideas of young people to get off the ground and not be discouraged, but as you come to the execution phase it can be very difficult for that same reason.

    The execution phase is just as difficult as it has ever been and now maybe even more so with new regulations and procedures to follow. It is an incredibly steep learning curve and there are many hurdles you must cross. While this makes the journey incredibly interesting, it also means you must have the experience behind you in order to have a hope of executing correctly.

    I think the challenge for young people is to take as much from the innovation phase as possible and recognize that this is the time to surround yourself with the experience and mentorship that can focus your energy and help you going forward. There are now also great programs like MedTech Innovator, which I am a part of, which are fairly new in the grand scheme of things but offer incredibly insightful industry knowledge to make ideas into products that were not previously available to young people or anyone else coming into the field.”

     

    [Image courtesy of JAMES ROBERTS]

  • Manavjeet Sidhu

    Manavjeet Sidhu, 29—CEO of Contagiend Solutions

     

    Sidhu has combined his passions for medicine and business—he has both an MD and an MBA—into Contagiend Solutions. The company is developing products to protect patients from human errors during medical injections. Such errors can mean accidental exposure and infection to diseases like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. He has developed distribution plans, worked on intellectual property strategies, and led regulatory and manufacturing work for the company. Sidhu was creating medical devices long before earning his advanced degrees. He explained that while he was an undergraduate, he sought a solution for the high number of children dying from diarrhea in the developing world. Diarrhea can be deadly for children in such areas because available water is often contaminated and caregivers often don’t know how to give patients the correct concentration of rehydration salts. “I therefore created a device that would filter water and guarantee the correct administration of salts in any environment to help address this potentially avoidable cause of death,” Sidhu said.

     

    What’s next—in his own words:

    “We have validated the usability of several product lines in the hospital and clinic setting. Currently, we are finalizing our distribution and licensing strategies. I am especially excited about a series of low-cost innovations we are creating to provide affordable solutions to curtail the spread of infection in the developing world.”

     

    What are the biggest factors that helped you become a young innovator?

    “I have always been intrigued by how things work. It is this curiosity that eventually led me to become a doctor so I could learn how the most complex machine of them all works—the human body. However, I probably wouldn't have gotten anywhere if it wasn't for my parents. They nurtured my curiosity as I was growing up in any way that they could, from supporting me as a child when I wanted to take apart and reassemble the TV to see how it works, to being guinea pigs for my innovations. Further, their immigrant experiences instilled the value of resilience. From an early age, I learned that failure was an inevitable part of the journey. Instead of being discouraged when my first attempt at a product was suboptimal, I learned to view failure as an inevitable and often crucial part of the learning process. I am especially thankful to them because both curiosity and resilience have been critical in my ability to innovate at a young age—and I look forward to the ways in which these values will continue to help my endeavors as an aspiring entrepreneur.”

     

    What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far?

    “Initially, my nontraditional training was the biggest challenge I faced. Despite my interest in innovation, I lacked a formal engineering background. In order to increase my skillset in this sphere, I spent numerous hours teaching myself basics of computer programming and product design. In addition to reiterating the importance of work ethic, I gained a newfound appreciation for the unique paradigm my training provides. When combined with my new technical skills, my formal education as a doctor with an MBA enables me to approach problems with a fresh perspective.”

     

    Is it becoming easier or harder for young people to have an impact in medical technology, and why?

    “It’s an exciting time to be a young aspiring innovator in the medical technology field, since the cost of entry has decreased. For example, easily accessible open source programs can aid device design, while rapid prototyping equipment such as 3-D printers and low-cost hardware such as Arduino controllers breathe life into these ideas. Many undergraduate and graduate programs are also now offering multidisciplinary curriculum that combine entrepreneurship with healthcare training to support the success of budding entrepreneurs in medical technology.”

     

    [Image courtesy of MANAVJEET SIDHU]

  • Harbaljit Singh Sohal

    Harbaljit ‘Harbi’ Sohal, 29—Assistant Professor at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research

     

    During his career, Sohal has focused on designing, manufacturing, and implementing implanted devices that interface with the muscles, organs, and nerves of the body. He explained that “Flexible, chronically implanted devices can be of use in various scenarios to allow for chronic recording and stimulation of the peripheral and central nervous system for treatment and better understanding of disease states.” These devices have the potential to treat a wide range of conditions, including brain disorders and immunodisorders.

     

    What’s next—in his own words:

    “Flexible interfaces (electrical, chemical, or optical sensors) can be used to sense and treat disease by integrating into the body better overtime, allowing for more efficacious treatment through targeting specific neural pathways with less side effects. I am currently developing a wide range of sensors to interface to various peripheral nerves and the brain to treat disorders. This is known as bioelectronic medicine—targeted and informed neural stimulation to treat disease.”

     

    What are the biggest factors that helped you become a young innovator?

    “My mother suffered a stroke when I was a teenager and ever since I have been fascinated in the workings of the brain. During my PhD, I began to become interested in strategies to treat paralysis and decided to work on electrical, flexible sensors that can be better integrated with the body (the brain) to sense for a long time. Such sensors were tested in preclinical models and were shown to record stable activity for over a two-year period, showing the feasibility of using such an approach. I have since built upon this with implanted sensors that could be used for long-term medical diagnostics especially by interfacing with nerves.”

     

    What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far?

    “When medtech development does not go right after you have already produced a working prototype that has performed well. Perseverance and patience is needed when producing medtech devices, as things can go wrong at any moment in time. A number of challenges can occur in microfabrication and the ability to change your thinking and think fast to produce a solution to a newly arising issue is the difference between a successful reliable manufacturing process and a failed product.”

     

    Is it becoming easier or harder for young people to have an impact in medical technology, and why?

    “I think with the advent of smart devices and the adoption of technology at a younger age, we will see more impact from young people in integration of such technology with current medical technology. I always see my nephews and nieces playing and learning from smart device apps and I wish that such an impact on development was available when I was younger.

     

    Imagine an implant that can sense and alert you on your phone when you need to see a doctor or have better data to provide your doctor for a more informed diagnosis. This is where the younger generation will have a big impact on healthcare, along with the development of novel devices through development of fresh ideas. Therefore, I do foresee it becoming easier for younger people to have an impact in medical technology and an absolutely necessary step for the future of medtech.”

     

    [Image courtesy of HARBALJIT SINGH SOHAL]

  • Tao Yang

    Tao Yang, 26—President and CEO of I-See Loyal Tech, Inc.

     

    Yang’s varied background in academia, research, business, and sales led him to his current role as the cofounder and CEO of I-See Loyal Tech, a new technology for testing eye pressure in glaucoma patients. He earned a degree in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Minnesota before completing a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. In China, he led the sales team of Qingdao Kangjuncheng Commercial and Trade Co., LTD to develop market research on the need for consumable medical devices in local hospitals.

     

    Yang was working on a doctorate in Biomedical Engineering at Syracuse University when he and his close friends invented the I-See Tonometer technology. Soon after, he decided to leave the PhD program to further the technology. “I decided to apply a patent on this invention and push this technology to the market,” Yang said. “I am very appreciative of the trust from all my team members and now we are all partners in I-See Loyal Tech.”

     

    What’s next—in his own words:

    “We finished our prototype and business plan last month and are ready to do some fund raising. Because our provisional patent will expire soon, we have already submitted a PCT [Patent Cooperation Treaty] application. Our aim during the next 18 month is to prospect some investors for funding and to use this money to improve our prototype and apply for FDA approval.”

     

    What are the biggest factors that helped you become a young innovator?

    “The biggest factors that have helped me become an innovator at this age is my soul as an entrepreneur. I am an aggressive person with an extremely strong character. My leadership abilities made me a good team leader so we could work together towards one aim. I believe this is very important . . . We believe that we are fighting for the future. Again, I am so appreciative of their trust.”

     

    What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far?

    “At this early stage in my career, there are many challenges. The biggest challenge now is fundraising. This is due to our backgrounds. We all have academically strong engineering backgrounds but little business background . . . We are trying to find partners who have relevant backgrounds in business.”

     

    Is it becoming easier or harder for young people to have an impact in medical technology, and why?

    This is a question that I have no way to answer. Start early, finish Strong. There are lots of success stories, like Steven jobs and Bill Gates. But I know that 99% young entrepreneurs fail. We never think of something as easier or harder than this situation. We just believe that we have nothing to lose but a few years to make a trail, and this trail might make everyone on this team great. Even if we cant make it in the future, we are still young enough to work for other companies with good experience as an entrepreneur. The risks we take can be handled, so we will go and give it a try.”

     

    [Image courtesy of TAO YANG]

  • Anthony Zlaket

    Anthony Zlaket, 22—Founder of Rethro

     

    Zlaket started immersing himself in the medical device field while earning his biomedical engineering degree from Arizona State University. That led to internships at the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House and American Enterprise Institute. While still in college, Zlaket and two classmates designed an orthopedic dynamic split, Rethro, to correct and prevent hand deformities. The device was selected as a top project by the National Academy of Engineering and the National Institutes of Health. “We are looking forward to taking our startup to the next level,” Zlaket said.

     

    What’s next—in his own words:

    “I am currently pursuing a double Master’s in Design Engineering and Management at Harvard University and École Centrale-Supélec. As far as Rethro is concerned, we are currently in the process of patenting this medical device and obtaining further funding. In addition, we will be conducting a more digitized manufacturing process that includes next-generation 3D printing. Stay tuned for more updates!”

     

    What are the biggest factors that helped you become a young innovator?

    “In my opinion, the most important factor that has helped me become an innovator is the supportive environment I was surrounded by. My family is always there for me whenever I need them and they are the most important people in my life. Also, I was lucky to get the best professors, the best friends, the best mentors, the best staff, and more importantly, the best teammates. I strongly believe that a team is what makes you or breaks you. In my case, I am extremely grateful to have them and I could not have imagined working on these projects with anyone else.”

     

    What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far?

    “My most recent challenge was getting lost with multiple career and academic paths after graduation. I think that a lot of biomedical engineers face this same issue because, in fact, biomedical engineering is very broad and you really need to be committed and determined in order to truly know where you belong and make an impact. I spent my first three years as an undergraduate not knowing what I wanted to do with my degree. I wanted to go into medicine, the medtech industry, law—I even took the LSAT and got accepted to multiple law schools. But, it was not until my senior year, when I got involved in the entrepreneurship world and worked as a real engineer, that I starting falling in love with the medical device industry. I have realized that my real identity was right in front of me throughout all those years. I am an engineer, I am an innovator, and I am here to change the world.”

     

    Is it becoming easier or harder for young people to have an impact in medical technology, and why?

    “We are in the golden years of innovation and it is becoming a lot easier for young people to make an impact in the medical world. For instance, we can see how they are pushed since a very young age to pursue STEM majors by offering them programs that inspire them to make an impact in the world. Another good example would be universities and other academic institutions that are investing more in opportunities for their students to try to make their ideas a reality. It is very exciting for us as medical innovators to see this movement happening and I encourage anyone who is interested to join us in making positive impacts around the world.”

     

    [Image courtesy of ANTHONY ZLAKET]

     

     

    Continue on to “Wonder Women of Medtech” >>

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