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Dima Elissa Wants to 3D-print You

Posted October 17
By Clayton Gentry
MATTER Journalism Fellow

The serial entrepreneur and technologist’s biomedical design firm creates 3D replicas of body parts for physicians, educators, and medical attorneys alike.

dimaelissaMuch of the healthcare world is based on established averages, but averages are just that – and data from individuals often doesn’t match them. That’s why serial Chicago entrepreneur Dima Elissa wants to create a new standard.

“Our world is built around the measures that a 70 kg white male presents,” she said. “Our houses, our homes, our cars, our approaches in medicine — be it drugs, formulations of treatment care paths, or medical devices.”

Elissa’s company, VisMed-3D, uses visualization and 3D printing technology to provide healthcare specialists, educators, and even medical attorneys with hyper-realistic models of real patient anatomy.

“Imagine that I take a scan of you,” Elissa said. “I recreate it in a mesh model… so I can granularly drive through the cockles of your heart, to the veins in your brain and all that vasculature, and it’s you.” The process of printing a body part usually starts with an MRI or CT scan. These scans provide slices that VisMed-3D uses to assemble a model that can either be printed or rendered digitally.

These renderings can be used by a doctor planning a surgery, a medical school professor who wants to exhibit an edge case, or attorneys in medical malpractice lawsuits.

“We’re as different on the outside as we are on the inside,” Elissa said. “[But] we’re working off of average data and expected assumptions around a body. I think patients don’t yet appreciate what that truly means for them, and why they should care.”

“I think patients don’t yet appreciate what that truly means for them, and why they should care.”

So she’s spreading the word. At last month’s TechUp Career Fair in New York, VisMed-3D took 3D selfie demos, capturing about 150 people with a 3D scanner and printing tiny replicas of them. They will also attend Chicago Ideas Week October 17-23, where they’ll demo how they’ll soon be able to present patient-specific data sets to increase the quality and delivery of healthcare.

As healthcare evolves, it must better cater to individuals, rather than averages, Elissa said.

“As we improve our ability to treat and plan and devise remedies for chronic conditions and otherwise, we need to factor in the variability of individuals,” Elissa said. “We’re not all the same.”

“We’re not all the same.”

Elissa can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.