Dima Elissa is a serial techpreneur currently CEO and founder of VisMed-3D, a biomedical design and consulting firm that uses Al to design and visualize 3D printed body parts. Dima was selected by Chicago magazine as one of the top Women in Tech, Chicago lnno’s 50 on Fire, MakeItBetter’s Top Chicago Women in Science and by Chicago Tribune’s BlueSky Vault as one of the Top 100 entrepreneurs in Chicago. Her recent designations include the American Medical Woman’s Association (AMWA) Tech and Innovation Lead to the Diversity, Inclusion & Innovation (DI&I) sector and an LGBT White House delegate on Technology and Innovation. Dima also serves as a member of the board of trustee of Hanover College, a board member for mHUB Chicago, iGIANT, is Chicago Chapter President for Women in Bio, and Chair of the STEM steering committee for the Aparecio Foundation. Dima holds a B.A. in Chemistry from Hanover College and has earned her MBA from Texas A&M’s May’s School of Business. @dimaelissa @vismed3d

Dima will be a speaker at our Chicago event during RSNA this year. 

Jenny: What inspired you to use 3D printing for your work?

DE: I’ve always been a technology forward individual… seeking the latest and greatest that innovation has to offer.  My career path is circuitous, beginning with a STEM degree in Chemistry to work for a Fortune 500 company in International Marketing. While there, I joined a new ventures division to identify, assess, evaluate and stage new business products, services and ideas supporting a single-product company with a ticking patent clock. During a nearly 10-year stint, I invested in a technology start-up that I later ran. Over the next few decades, I became a STEM MBA and continued launching businesses and evaluating niche technology ideas until I jettisoned the last one and began teaching entrepreneurship, coaching and mentoring women in the tech field who had new ideas or projects. During this phase, I stumbled upon 3D printing. A 30-year-old technology — yet new to me — heavily promoted innovation with new methods and applications, largely due to patent expiration and the open source community mindset. I explored what 3D printing could actually do today and its promise for the future. I was truly mesmerized. I could envision the power of novel design, disruptive design thinking, reimagining the impossible to be possible in nearly every facet of the industry to make objects, system components, improving and automating manufacturing, to accelerating machinery and vehicles production. Above all, I saw the value in healthcare to produce body parts as pre-surgical guides and educational tools to reduce errors, deliver more efficient medical procedures and lower costs while improving patient outcomes through more personalized, precision medicine with 3D imaging, AR/VR and automation of workflows leveraging AI.

Jenny: What is the biggest motivation for your work?

DE: I see the end-to-end benefit of using 3D workflows to create and support standards in healthcare across a series of modalities. Taking the imprecise and making it precise, the impersonal to becoming personal within the treatment of patients, from knee implants to anomalous tumor detection in organs and the entire body.

Jenny: What is the biggest challenge in your work?

DE: Today, I work with ANSI on the AMSC Standardization Roadmap for additive manufacturing to ensure the creation and cooperation across various imaging standards in healthcare and other manufacturing to allow for the creation of repeatable scalable applications within 3D workflows. Add that to the lack of reimbursement for these activities, and the prospects for this 3D business appear daunting.

Jenny: How do you approach working with people of differing backgrounds?

DE: I say that if necessity is the mother of invention, then diversity is the mother of success. As the tech and innovation lead for the American Medical Association, the Board secretary for iGIANT.org and other board designations, I serve to promote diversity across all my communities, endeavors and experiences I touch.  It’s been proven that a heterogeneous mix of backgrounds, for example in corporate boardrooms, yields greater returns within companies. I believe that is largely the case in most other scenarios, especially for innovation.

Jenny: How will you overcome this challenge?

DE: Each of us must learn to embrace the notion that we are responsible to bring about diverse thinking within our communities. It doesn’t happen alone, it doesn’t happen by accident; rather, actions must be deliberate and intentional to create a safe, welcoming place for all walks of life and ethnicities. We must invite and unite; we are all responsible for changing the lens of discrimination and exclusion based on race, color, ethnicity, orientation and new ways of thinking.

Jenny: What is your vision on the potential impact of your current work to the future of medicine?

DE: Creating a standard that allows for repeatable, sharable, consistent imaging data will change the ability to collaborate and extend patient information across medical homes and institutions of care, removing the limitations and inaccuracies of imaging data.

Jenny: What is the biggest change/improvement you’ve seen since last year?

DE: There are a greater awareness and a large effort being put forth by ANSI and other groups to ensure standards are being addressed for additive manufacturing. Getting everyone on the same page is critical.

Jenny: What are you passionate about?

DE: Bringing 3D imaging innovation to healthcare and industry. Doing well by doing good.

Jenny: What is the biggest risk you took in your career?

DE: Building a new company, VisMed3D when the challenges exceeded the immediate ROI because the healthcare reimbursement gateways are not yet matured to support the work and procedures fully realized within 3D technology.

Jenny: What do you like to do in your spare time?

DE: I have very little spare time, but I make sure I work out, play tennis and read. Serving on many academic, non-profit and community boards, I thrive to drive change to improve education, jobs and economic opportunity for all of our populations. I embrace every opportunity to speak and present on 3D printing, diversity, and inclusion, the Impact of Gender and Sex on Novel Technologies and innovation (iGIANT.org) I enjoy mentoring and advancing the youth mindset, especially younger women taking career paths that mirror their passions and aspirations, with an eye towards STEM, STEAM, STREAM or STEMm (medicine).