“I know many people in my area are doing research in medical 3D printing, however, different teams don’t really communicate that much with each other and 3DHEALS seems like a great opportunity to gather all people who are passionate about implementing technologies from digital health area into clinical routine.”
Community: Kraków, Poland
3DHEALS members can get in touch with: Jan Witowski here
Jenny: Tell us a little about yourself. (Where are you from originally? Where are you located? What are you working on?)
Jan: Hailing from Łańcut, Poland and moved to Kraków for medical school in 2013. I’ve been running a digital health research team at Jagiellonian University Medical College since 2017.
Jenny: What made you decide to become a 3DHEALS community manager?
Jan: I know many people in my area are doing research in medical 3D printing, however, different teams don’t really communicate that much with each other and 3DHEALS seems like a great opportunity to gather all people who are passionate about implementing technologies from digital health area into clinical routine.
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?
Jan: Right now we can see the research world moving from feasibility and pilot studies to clinical trials. Next couple of years are going to be crucial regarding where and when 3D printing will be actually useful for patients. We will definitely see an increased availability of all 3D visualization techniques, including 3DP and others such as augmented reality. And with advancements in machine learning, we can speed up medical image processing. There is also a question of how well the materials will mimic real tissue in a couple of years. If we can get mechanical properties similar to human tissue then we can talk about serious simulations and mock procedures.
Jenny: If you have done 3D printing before, what have you made/designed? (Photos if available, preferably in healthcare application)
Jan: I’ve started playing with 3D printing in late 2015 and in 2016 developed the most cost-effective technique of 3D printing liver models for preoperative planning. Since 2017 I’m running a digital health research team and with collaboration with many institutions in Poland and around the world we have worked in many fields and published several peer-reviewed papers
My main project is 3D printing for liver surgery, however, we have worked with cardiologists and printed models for planning left atrial appendage occlusion, transcatheter aortic valve replacement, balloon pulmonary angioplasty and more. So far we have created just under 100 models which were all used in a clinical setting.
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?
Jan: I believe that simply devoting your time to creating a research team and working on it every day is a major risk when you are working or studying full time. I have sacrificed time I could have used to study exams and get better grades, but this is by far more ambitious, developing and satisfying.
Jenny: Who would you like to find and to include in the 3DHEALS community you are building?
Jan: Clinicians and researchers who are interested in 3D printing but don’t have the necessary skills or access to equipment, to connect them with others willing to collaborate.
Jenny: What would you like to accomplish with this new 3DHEALS community in the future?
Jan: Running multi-institution trials on 3D printing clinical utility and moving the field forward
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?
Jan: There’s a lot of skilled and smart engineers and clinicians coming out of Polish universities. Unfortunately, it is often the case that the best ones move abroad to bigger institutions with better funding. That is a bigger problem for another discussion. But we should learn as much as possible how to find yourself in the current system and how to fund and grow your innovations in it because it is possible.
Jenny: What are you most proud of about your city?
Jan: Kraków is a gorgeous city, great for young people. One of the best things is that everyone I know who live or used to live or studied here, all of these people are proud of Kraków and they say it is their city.
Jenny: What are you most proud of about the innovation community in your city?
Jan: As I said the people can be very skilled. I’ve met tremendous innovators with ideas that could change the community, improve people lives, really. It’s a shame that their potential is not fully used.
Jenny: What do you think are the top priorities in healthcare innovations for your city/community?
Jan: This may not be exclusive to just my city or even my country, but moving the research forward onto the clinical trials and providing the solutions to patients. We mustn’t stay in the R&D stage forever.
Jenny: What do you hope to accomplish through your role as the 3DHEALS community manager?
Jan: Connecting all research groups working on 3D printing in Poland to share insights and collaborate – the separation between researchers doing science in a very similar area can slow down the progress significantly.
Jenny: What do you do for fun?
Jan: Playing the guitar, people watching, driving at night, watching cartoons, going to music festivals