Interview: Michael Joyce, Dublin, Ireland

Michael Joyce received his undergraduate degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Minnesota Duluth. From there, he took a position at Stratasys as a Technical Specialist where he refined his 3D printing skills through a variety of printing applications. After leaving Stratasys to pursue a Masters degree in Stem Cell Biology at the University of Minnesota. Michael focused his research on vascularization of bioprinted constructs in Dr. Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari’s bioprinting laboratory. He then began his Ph.D. at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland under Dr. Fergal O’Brien’s supervision. Currently, he works with gene activated scaffolds for repair of large osteochondral defects.

Jenny: One quote that represents you:

Michael: They’re not failures; they’re learning opportunities… never give up.  

Jenny: Tell us a little about yourself.

Michael:  My initial introduction to 3D printing was working at Stratasys as a Technical Specialist for 3 years. Although because of my undergraduate degree in Cell and Molecular Biology I was always interested in bioprinting and medical applications of 3D printing. After leaving Stratasys I decided to pursue a master’s program at the University of Minnesota’s Stem Cell Institute which allowed me to combine two of my passions, 3D printing, and Stem Cell Biology. After a year of working on vascularization of bioprinted tissues, I was offered a Ph.D. opportunity at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland which is where I currently am based.

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

Michael: Being a new immigrant to a country can be hard at times, and I knew taking on the role of a community manager would encourage me to network with individuals who shared similar passions of mine in Ireland. Which ultimately would make the transition easier for me.

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?

Michael: 3D printing in medical device manufacturing allows for concepts to be converted into prototypes at a pace and cost effectiveness that is truly inspiring. While bioprinting also shows immense promise, I’m always cautious when individuals try to progress it too quickly. We should not forget that patient’s lives will be affected by our actions and safety should always be the highest priority as we proceed.

Jenny: If you have done 3D printing before, what have you made/designed?

Michael: I’ve printed too many things to list here, but some of my favorite medical applications are custom made prosthetics that have a huge impact on the patient’s daily life. The project that I’m currently working on uses 3D printing to help repair cartilage defects in load bearing joints using the patient’s own stem cells.

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?

Michael: Essentially I gave up my “safe” job, and spent all the money I had saved on bioprinting because I believe that strongly in it. That being said, I’ve always been happy to do so, and I wouldn’t change the path that I’ve taken to get here.

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

Michael: I’m always looking for individuals who are creative, hardworking, logical, and entrepreneurial. While this field can be profitable, most individuals who participate in it are here to help people. We see the current standard of care and know that we can do better. Which reminds me… persistence is key! There are always going to be challenges or barriers, you just need to persevere and overcome them.

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

Michael: Essentially my main goal is to improve the standard of care that is offered to patients through many different routes. One of the ways to do this is to make it easier for innovators to innovate. Some of the challenges innovators encounter can be daunting, which is why the 3DHEALS community is so important. Many projects are so multi-disciplinary that it’s incredibly hard for an individual to possess all the skills and knowledge to succeed, but with a community of highly skilled individuals who can lend expertise in complimentary areas, conquering the challenges is much more achievable!

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

Michael: The history, I’m currently affiliated with two universities in Dublin, one is older than America, and the other is only 8 years younger than America. Both have a rich history of progressing healthcare education and innovation.

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

Michael: The legislation in Dublin and Ireland is very supportive of startup companies. There are also numerous innovative multinational corporations here such as: Google, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, and Apple which will hopefully foster future innovation in the area.

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

Michael: Being able to translate a product from an idea to a clinically relevant product is something that the Irish have a strong history in, and is something that I hope to continue.

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

Michael: Connecting individuals together who can help each other overcome the challenges that they’re facing is one of my main goals. As I previously mentioned it’s a very diverse field, and sometimes a little bit of help from others can go a long way towards the success of a project.

Jenny: What do you do for fun?

Michael: I’m new to Europe so I like to get out and explore the different cultures, and scenery that can be found whether in Ireland or across the continent.