3DHEALS Community Manager Interview: Kuan-Lin Chen, MD, MTM, Taiwan

 

  “Taiwan has a big community of physicians devoting in 3D printing, researchers doing bioprinting and 3D printing for medical device development, companies in 3D printer manufacturing and developers for printing materials. Beyond these, many students interested in learning 3D printing. My goal is to use the brand of 3DHEALS to connect those people and create a mutually beneficial community. Moreover, through 3DHEALS the community can then be connected to the international platform, opening new opportunities for international collaboration.”

 

 

 

 

Community: Taiwan

3DHEALS members can get in touch with:  Kuan-Lin Chen here

Jenny: What is one quote that represents you

Kuan: “There’s a way to do it better—find it.” –Thomas Edison

Jenny: Tell us a little about yourself. (Where are you from originally? Where are you located? What are you working on?)

Kuan: I was born and raised in Taiwan. I am an Orthopedic resident with in-depth training in the translational process of medical device innovation at UC Berkeley and UCSF. By combining the skillsets in surgery, computer-assisted design, rapid-prototyping and 3D printing, I have been helping other surgeons realizing their ideas. Some projects were successfully brought to multi-center trials with commercialization plan in place. Beyond design, the translational skillsets I acquired during my training in the Translational Medicine Program at UC Berkeley and UCSF including business, regulatory and intellectual property strategy development helped guide my design towards success.

Jenny: What made you decide to become a 3DHEALS community manager?

Kuan: I hope to use my background in medicine, computer-assisted 3D design and translational medicine to take part in this exciting field of innovation.

Jenny: What do you think of innovations in healthcare 3D printing or bioprinting? What do you hope to see in the next five years? 10 years?

Kuan: Bioprinting has the potential in bringing new solutions to currently unsolved medical problems. The most use case people heard is probably the applications in artificial organ transplantation. However, there’s still a long way to go before truly benefiting the patients because the technologies required is highly complicated and each of them is indispensable. Fortunately, the research for different aspects of making bio-printed organ transplantation is vibrant, including organ-scaffold construction, cell-culturing, cell-lines integration, angiogenesis and so on. In addition, the rapid advancement in stem cell technology is also a key to the success of bio-printed organ transplantation. They are complimentary between each other.

Before bio-printed artificial organ could be realized, there are other promising applications could be on the market earlier. For example, pharmaceuticals are already using bio-printed tissues for drug development; patient-specific cancer treatment is using printed tissue models to test drug efficacies.

Bioprinting has opened a whole new field of research and is very promising in benefiting patients in the future.

Jenny: If you have done 3D printing before, what have you made/designed? (Photos if available, preferably in healthcare application)

Kuan: I have been using 3D printing mostly in the prototyping process of medical device development. For example, the instrument for orthopedic cancer surgeries, the enclosure for a surgical illumination system, surgical training device, and others. However, due to confidentiality, I can’t reveal the photos at this moment.

Jenny: Most of our community managers are entrepreneurial and adventurous, what risks/adventures have you taken that you’d like to share with us? Any hopes or regrets?

Kuan: I postponed my step 1 medical license exam to attend a medical technology training session and conference. Usually, medical students do step 1 in Taiwan in the summer because students have 1.5 months off for preparation. Because I thought the training opportunity was invaluable, I made my decision to postpone the exam six months later, when I would be in the middle of the busy clinical rotation and might not have enough time for study. I worked extra-hard later for preparation for the test. In the end, I passed the exam in high status and still got the great training opportunity.

More recently, I also postponed my surgical residency training to pursue more education in medical device development. People often say to me “You are taking a great risk. What if you don’t get anything out of it? You could probably be delaying your clinical training.” In fact, I don’t feel like it’s taking a risk because it’s something I have much passion for.

Jenny: Who would you like to find and to include in the 3DHEALS community you are building?

Kuan: Taiwan has a big community of physicians devoting in 3D printing, researchers doing bioprinting and 3D printing for medical device development, companies in 3D printer manufacturing and developers for printing materials. Beyond these, many students interested in learning 3D printing. My goal is to use the brand of 3DHEALS to connect those people and create a mutually beneficial community. Moreover, through 3DHEALS the community can then be connected to the international platform, opening new opportunities for international collaboration.

Jenny: What would you like to accomplish with this new 3DHEALS community in the future?

Kuan: The first step will be building the community, creating a list of key people in this field in Taiwan and grow from there. Introducing local companies to pitch in the annual conference, forming international collaboration are all goals on the roadmap.

Jenny: What do you think about the innovation environment (for health tech or for general technology) in your city? What can be done to improve it?

Kuan: Taiwan has a long history in high-tech product development and manufacturing.

In recent years, those companies are seeking new ventures in healthcare applications. It’s becoming more common for physicians to be clinical advisors for those companies or even become entrepreneurs to devote in the innovative effort.  I observed that Taiwan has both strong technical support and top-notch clinicians. However, the know-how of identifying niche market opportunity and MedTech-related business development is comparably short.

For international networks, as 3D heals would potentially bring a new horizon and create opportunities in fortifying the development of medical innovation industry in Taiwan.

Jenny: What are you most proud of about your city?

Kuan: Besides serving an important role in the global high-tech industry and having one of the best cuisines all over the world, I am very proud of living in Taipei because of several reasons. Firstly, people have absolute freedom in speech and making political decisions. Taiwan is also the first country which legalizes same-sex marriage in Asia. Secondly, residents in Taipei are generally hospital, especially towards foreigners, who are recognized as guests. Thirdly, Taipei is ranked the second safest city in the world to travel in.

Jenny: What are you most proud of about the innovation community in your city?

Kuan: The community is full of creative, talented and passionate people. They are open to inputs, respect different opinions and also very welcoming to international collaborations.

Jenny: What do you think are the top priorities in healthcare innovations for your city/community?

Kuan: Priorities in healthcare innovations are influenced greatly by the health system each country has. Taiwan has a single-payer system in which the cost of the premium and out-of-pocket payment are extremely low. Patients have easy access to top-quality care. For example, if a patient has back pain, he decided to go to a clinic visit in the morning, he can actually see a specialist in Tertiary hospital in the afternoon and then complete X-ray within the same day. Also, CT scan, MRI could be done within a week. The total out-of-pocket pay for those visits and exams mentioned would be less than 120 dollars. The ease of access is excellent for the patients because diseases can be detected earlier and patients can be treated without going bankrupt. However, the significant number of visits creates a great burden on healthcare providers. Therefore, I think innovations, no matter in device or workflow, that keep patients healthy and away from the hospital or make providers’ life easier are top priorities in healthcare innovations in Taiwan.  

From the industry point of view, Taiwan has a small internal market but strong support in technology development and manufacturing capability. What Taiwan lacks and also in strong demand is the disruptive innovations that use the resources mentioned to enter the global medical device market. Internationally recognized and strong-scientific based game-changing innovations are top priorities.

Jenny: What do you hope to accomplish through your role as the 3DHEALS community manager?

Kuan: I hope to build a strong medical 3D related community in Taiwan with a stable international connection through 3DHEALS. In the future, I hope I can be the best person to contact if anyone from the world who is interested in the medical 3D industry in Taiwan. In the same time, if any company in Taiwan is interested in connecting to the global market, I am also the best person for them to contact.

Jenny: What do you do for fun?

Kuan: I love playing sports especially tennis. I was a captain of a university tennis team. Architecture, traveling, and photography adds flavor to my life.

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