Interview with Dr. Yu-Hui Huang: NextGen Medical 3D Printing

Yu-Hui Huang: Formally trained in Biomedical Visualization and Clinical Anaplastology, I am completing my Radiology residency with the Nuclear Medicine pathway, followed by a Neuroradiology fellowship at the University of Minnesota. I am also an adjunct faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Biomedical Visualization Program, where I teach 3D Printing with Data Segmentation for Medicine and Pathophysiology for Biomedical Visualization. I seek to combine art, medicine, and technology, specifically medical imaging and 3D printing, to improve patient care and outcomes. Dr. Huang will be speaking at our upcoming event, focusing on how to use 3D printing to take care of our pets.

When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing? What was that experience like? What were you thinking at that moment?

Yu-Hui Huang: I was first introduced to 3D printing during my Clinical Anaplastology training in 2012 when I assisted our craniofacial surgeons with virtual surgical planning using patient’s medical imaging data for implant retained prosthetic treatment and 3D printed patient-specific anatomic models and surgical guides.

I saw firsthand how 3D printing improved the patient’s surgical plan, patient education about her condition and treatment options, as well as education for the residents to simulate the operation beforehand and the ability to transfer the surgical plan into the OR with a sterilized guide and anatomic model as intraoperative reference.

What inspired you to start your journey?

Yu-Hui Huang: I fell in love with the value 3D printing technology could offer to improve patient care and outcomes. I then decided to pursue radiology to understand better how medical imaging data can be further optimized for 3D applications, as most current diagnostic imaging protocols are suboptimal.

Who inspired you the most along this journey in 3D printing?

Yu-Hui Huang: My patients, and my mentors in the graduate biomedical visualization program, clinical anaplastology, and craniofacial reconstructive surgery. My collaborators, as well as all those who supported me along the way, including RSNA 3DSIG, my current radiology mentors, colleagues, and students.

What motivates you the most for your work? 

Yu-Hui Huang: Improving patient care and outcome as well as enhancing healthcare and patient/family education.

What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions? 

Yu-Hui Huang: Establishing a centralized institutional clinical 3D printing and visualization service with billing and reimbursement of 3D technologies for clinical applications, which I am still actively working on. 

What do you think is (are) the biggest challenge(s) in 3D Printing/bio-printing? What do you think the potential solution(s) is (are)?

Yu-Hui Huang:

  • Scalability and Cost: Scaling up production and reducing costs for 3D printed products, especially in healthcare applications, is a significant challenge. Making these technologies more accessible requires overcoming economic barriers and obtaining for patient outcome data. 
    Potential Solution: Participation in the ACR-RSNA 3D Printing Registry, research into cost-effective materials and printing processes, and advancements in automation and optimization of production workflows can contribute to scalability and cost reduction. Public-private partnerships and strategic investments can also promote progress in this area.
  • Regulatory and Ethical Concerns: The regulatory landscape for 3D printing, particularly in the medical field, is continually evolving. Ensuring the safety and efficacy of 3D-printed products is a complex challenge.
    Potential Solution: Establishing clear regulatory frameworks, ethical guidelines, and standards for 3D printing technologies can help navigate these challenges. Collaboration between regulatory bodies, industry stakeholders, and ethicists is crucial to developing comprehensive and responsible regulations.
  • Material Limitations: The range of materials available for 3D printing is currently limited. Finding suitable biocompatible materials that mimic the complexity and functionality of biological tissues remains a challenge.
    Potential Solution: Ongoing research and development of innovative material compositions can expand the capabilities of 3D printing and bioprinting. Collaboration between materials scientists, biologists, and engineers is essential for progress.

If you are granted three wishes by a higher being, what would they be? 

Yu-Hui Huang:

  • Accessible and Sustainable 3D Printing: Develop cost-effective and environmentally sustainable 3D printing processes and materials. This would make 3D printing more accessible, particularly in healthcare applications, by reducing production costs and minimizing the environmental impact associated with these technologies.
  • Limitless Material Versatility: Ability to 3D print a diverse range of materials, including advanced biomimetic substances, enabling the replication of intricate biological structures and fostering innovation in various industries.
  • Unprecedented Precision and Speed: Advancements in 3D printing technology for unparalleled precision, speed, and scalability. This would expedite production processes, making 3D printing more efficient and accessible across different applications.

What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore? 

Yu-Hui Huang:

  • Stay Curious and Inquisitive: 3D printing is a rapidly evolving field. Explore new technologies and keep up with the latest developments. Attend industry events, read research papers, and engage with professionals to broaden your understanding.
  • Hands-On Experience: seek out hands-on experience via internships, personal projects, or involvement in campus initiatives for valuable practical skills.
  • Network: Connect with professionals, researchers, and enthusiasts in the 3D printing community. Attend conferences, join online forums, and participate in networking events to build a strong professional network.
  • Ignore the Fundamentals: Avoid the temptation to skip the basics in favor of more advanced techniques. A strong foundation is essential for tackling complex challenges effectively.
  • Isolating Yourself: Don’t isolate yourself from other disciplines. Collaboration is often key in innovative projects. Engage with individuals from various backgrounds to gain a holistic perspective on problem-solving.
  • Underestimating Soft Skills: Don’t underestimate the importance of communication, teamwork, and adaptability, which are just as crucial as technical expertise. Develop a well-rounded skill set to thrive in professional environments.

What’s your favorite book you read this year and why? Alternatively, what’s your favorite book of all times you read and why?

Yu-Hui Huang:Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” by Mary Roach is my favorite book of all time. It explores a subject that might be considered taboo or unsettling for some – the fate of human cadavers. Mary Roach approaches this subject with curiosity and a sense of adventure, providing one with a fresh and unconventional perspective. “Stiff” delves into various disciplines, including anatomy, forensics, medicine, and history. The interdisciplinary approach offers a comprehensive and interconnected view of the topic. Roach humanizes scientific research by focusing on the individuals involved, including scientists, medical professionals, and donors, making the content relatable and helps one connect with the people behind the scientific endeavors.”Stiff” has a knack for sparking curiosity. Roach’s exploration of unusual and thought-provoking questions related to human cadavers encourages one to think critically about the world of science and the intricacies of the human body. Ultimately, the appeal of “Stiff” lies in Mary Roach’s ability to blend information, humor, and a captivating narrative, making it a favorite for those interested in science, anatomy, and the quirks of the human experience.

Related Links:

Believe in Your Science: Dr. Orquidea Garcia, JNJ

Interview with Isabella Bondesson: Bioprinting for Drug Development

Interview with Dr. Ioanna Gidarakou: 3D Printing Orthodontics

Interview with Dr. Nicole Black: 3D-Printed Biomimetic Eardrum Grafts

Interview with Jade Myers: Designing 3D Printed Prosthetics

Interview with Elissa Ross: Mathematics Behind Metafold 3D