Interview with Dr. Sang Joon Park, CEO of MEDICALIP

Sang Joon Park is the Founder and CEO of MEDICALIP and Professor of the Department of Radiology at the Seoul National University Hospital in South Korea. Dr. Park graduated in computer science at the school of engineering college. He then went to the college of medicine at Seoul National University to obtain his Master’s and a Ph.D. degree in Interdisciplinary Program in Radiation Applied Life Science.

Sang Joon Park is an expert in 3D medical imaging for developing CT/MRI-based imaging biomarkers and medical 3D printing software platform MEDIP. He is currently a Vice Director at the Medical Device Innovation Center of Seoul National University Hospital and help researchers and medical device company for performing easy clinical trials. He has acted as an international reviewer and editor in medical imaging society as well as a member of the committee for medical device development in the Korean government, with a goal of improving clinical outcomes using 3D medical technology.

Most recently, he is in charge of a leader of the company, MEDICALIP that providing medical 3D printing procedure software “MEDIP” for 3D organ printing. This was after many years of collaboration with clinicians and scientists at Seoul National University. He brings his multi-disciplinary experience in specialized 3D printing in medicine to share the clinical trials and workflow trends. Dr. Park will be presenting at 3DHEALS2020.

Jenny: It’s been two years since 3DHEALS interviewed you, can you share with us some of the major milestones with MEDICALIP? 

Joon: In 2019, MEDICALIP secured the FDA approval of medical 3D printing software and CE certification for the third time following Materialise and 3D Systems, which is a foothold to enter the competitive market dominated by existing global companies. We are planning to take action to grow at our full scale in the global market, giving the competitive edge of our products in 2020. 

In particular, while the global medical imaging software market is expected to grow continuously, the strengths of our software MEDIP’s AI medical image analysis will stand out as our AI technology focuses intensively on major targeted diseases such as cardiac disease, orthopedic surgery, oncology and so on. 

In addition,  we develop R&D modeling technology backed by clinical validations. We have been developing AI medical image analysis software that was introduced at RSNA2019 in Chicago such as ‘TiSepX,’ tissue separation technology from an x-ray image, and ‘DeepCatch,’ which analyzes body composition in 9 layers in less than a minute from CT image with one button click.

Moreover, we are aiming to dominate the market by providing a complete solution from 3D medical image analysis to 3D printing by combining our distinctive medical software, medical 3D printing solution ‘ANATDEL,’ and ‘MDBOX,’  VR-based digital anatomy table. 

3D Printed Lungs
3D Printed Lungs Photo Credit: MEDICALIP

Jenny: How are you dealing with COVID19 personally and how is MEDCALIP responding to the crisis? 

Joon: Worldwide early diagnosis and disease severity judgment are important issues as the number of suspected COVID-19 cases and confirmed cases are rapidly increasing.  Whereas existing COVID-19 diagnostic kits are not able to perform patient triages from mild to severe cases or inaccurate in the diagnose, CT-based pneumonia analysis can help the diagnose immediately and triage severe cases therefore in the medical system management standpoint, the effectiveness of a treatment can be maximized and reduce the probability of the patient’s death.

From day one starting MEDICALIP,  we have been devoted to introducing technology to solve problems in the medical field, pursuing the vision of ‘Empowering Medicine, Saving Lives.’ In 2020, as prepared to advance in the medical imaging field with MEDIP PRO, we faced a new challenge – COVID-19 – and presented technology that incorporates our vision and the ongoing pandemic.

‘MEDIP COVID19’ is software that can analyze anonymized medical images using deep learning technology and detect COVID-19 pneumonia within one minute. It is currently downloaded and used by 903 organizations in 35 countries (as of April 8, 2020). We are providing ‘MEDIP COVID19’ for free for those who are putting their best efforts in COVID-19 research and AI technology development to help them bring advancement in healthcare and technology.

Jenny: How can Artificial Intelligence play a role in healthcare 3D Printing? And how is this related to MEDICALIP product development? 

Joon: It’s expected that the global 3D printing industry will steadily rise.  A large number of big data in medical imaging are collected and analyzed more effectively through AI technology to increase accuracy, reduce time, and improve convenience in the medical 3D printing process. 

MEDICALIP’s ‘MEDIP PRO’ is developed with the original AI medical image analysis and segmentation technology to quickly analyze CT, MRI, or other tomography images and convert them to 3D.  With this software, medical staff can accurately detect the patient’s lesion and obtain a detailed analysis of the patient by viewing the patient data in 3D. ’MEDIP PRO’ helps medical staff plan the best optimized surgical practice, simulate the surgery, and conduct high-quality research. Not only for the surgical procedure but also it can improve the quality of medical education.

Besides, MEDIP PRO is improving in terms of usability and the accuracy in AI-based segmentation technology. The sufficient volume of big data, collected from various medical institutions we are collaborating with, and deep learning technology together enable organ extractions in the medical image with just one-click within a few seconds. MEDICALIP’s AI technology, infused with 3D printing technology, can create synergy.

Spine Simulator
Spine Simulator Photo Credit: MEDICALIP

Jenny: Software, materials, or 3D printers. It has been an ongoing debate in the industry forever as to which is the most important player. What do you think is the most important player in healthcare 3D printing? 

Joon: In the healthcare industry, 3D printing is meaningful in that it creates 3-dimensional information out of 2-dimensional medical modality from CT, MRI, etc. The essence of the technology in this 3D conversion process is how accurately the 3D modeling can be done. The most critical work in the whole process is segmentation. Various experts use different software to segment and do 3D modeling for 3D printing with their anatomical knowledge, which consumes a lot of time and cost. 

Ureteroscope simulator
Ureteroscope simulator Photo Credit: Ureteroscope Simulator

Jenny: Cost and time are two challenges you mentioned in your previous interview on healthcare 3D printing? What new solutions have you found in the past two years to these challenges? 

AI segmentation lifts the burden of segmentation work to begin the 3D printing process. Furthermore, MEDICALIP provides a mobile platform where researchers can check the 3D modeling result online using their phone or computer also with VR so they can save time and cost spent on the confirmation process. 

Ear Surgery Simulator Photo Credit: MEDICALIP

Jenny: What was your biggest victory in 2019? Please share that story with us. 

Joon: The year 2019 was a stepping stone for MEDICALIP to enter AI medical imaging industry both domestically and globally. We won the FDA approval in November and CE certificate in December for 3D printing software with AI technology. 

This was a significant achievement in that we proved our technology reached the global standard, showing its competitiveness to expand to North America, Europe, China, and other international medical imaging industries.

In the 3D printing business,  Stratasys, one of the most prominent players in the 3D printing industry, has significantly improved the quality of medical 3D printing products. Stratasys introduced the world’s first full-color, multi-material 3D printer – J750. Stratasys’s J750 can produce 500,000 artificial colors, textures, transparency, etc., to create high-end anatomical models. Having these technologies and competitive products, we took one step further to the global healthcare market by participating in RSNA in the end of 2019, the world’s largest imaging medical society.  

3D Printed Abdominal Tumor
3D Printed Abdominal Tumor Photo Credit: MEDICALIP

Jenny: What are you looking forward to or biggest goals for MEDICALIP in 2020, especially in light of ongoing COVID19 crisis? 

Joon: MEDICALIP has set a goal to make 2020 the first year to expand overseas with the FDA approval and CE certification. The goal in 2020 is to transform into an international company by adapting ourselves to the global medical markets with our technologies for 3D medical image analysis and 3D printing. 

For our team, COVID-19 was a global crisis and also was a momentum to realize the power in the medicine to save lives. We are providing ‘MEDIP COVID19’ to the world, especially marginalized countries with insufficient medical resources, to contribute to solving the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Now, MEDICALIP wants to spread our technology wherever and whenever needed on the globe. Medical resources are limited. It’s becoming more critical to evaluate a patient’s condition faster and more accurately to allocate medical resources efficiently. For this reason, I reckon MEDICALIP’s medical image analysis technology will be widely known to the medical industry around the world. 

Pediatric Congenital Heart Disease
Pediatric Congenital Heart Disease Photo Credit: MEDICALIP

Jenny: Can you share with us some of your early successes and failures with your work? How did these shape your work and beliefs today? 

Joon: I don’t consider my life particularly as a success. I majored in computer science and got chances to stumble upon various medical software, which led me to a way even to hardware manufacturing for 3D printing. What I did well was applying this dynamic changes. Essentially if AI software and 3D printing hardware technology can create synergy in medicine and become a help for doctors and patients, I think this aligns with the success my team and I want to achieve. 

Brain Tumor
Brain Tumor Research Photo Credit: MEDICALIP

Jenny: If you can go back 5 or 10 years, what would you have done differently? 

Joon: I think I would have started a business in another place not limited to South Korea. 

Patient Specific Aortic Model
3D Printed Patient Specific Aortic Model Photo Credit: MEDICALIP

Jenny: What are unique about being an entrepreneur in South Korea? 

Joon: The Korean medical industry is strong in radiology on the global stage. With various medical radiology-based teams, MEDICALIP is pushing forward to apply 3D printing technology to different organs and lesions. I think this Radiology-based AI segmentatoin/3D modeling will have a great synergy in the medical 3D printing field. 

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