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Dr. Julielynn Wong: Radically Advancing Healthcare Delivery Using 3D Printing Technology

This is the first in a five-part series in which we introduce Canadian Medical Association members to the recipients of the first round of Joule™ Innovation grants. Please watch for additional stories in the series.


Dr. Julielynn Wong

Imagine being able to produce medical tools and equipment on the spot as needed, having them appear practically out of thin air. This sounds like something only seen in a science fiction movie. However, thanks to Dr. Julielynn Wong, and 3D4MD this is a realistic scenario. Julielynn and her team designed a solar-powered, plug-and-play, ultra-portable 3D printing system that produces a range of medical supplies right on-site.

Remarkably, it is now possible to use software to create 3D models of custom assistive devices and 3D print them using local 3D printers in hospitals, public libraries, schools, print shops, or people’s homes.

This solution solves numerous challenges in the healthcare community. First, the printers are low cost and portable and run on solar power which is appealing to those patients in remote areas around the globe who lack access to electricity. Second, because custom medical devices are produced on the spot at the point of use, this eliminates the weeks and months it takes for delivery of the product to clinics. It is also a work-around to the global shortage of skilled workers who can make these custom devices.

Not only is Julielynn Wong an award-winning innovator—having just won one of the first Joule™ Innovation grants— and a Harvard educated physician, she is an entrepreneurial powerhouse and inspiring role model for other innovators in the medical field. She is an active promoter of innovation and travels the globe to tell her story about bringing her interactive 3D printing technology to market. Julielynn has served as the Health and Safety Officer for the Mars Desert Research Station and first to 3D print medical supplies there. Her accomplishments are nothing short of extraordinary. But for Julielynn, it’s all in a day’s work.

“My role is to inspire, teach, and empower people to become innovators and use 3D printing to solve big challenges. Anybody can be an innovator – it’s about creating technology that’s beneficial and accessible to those around the globe who need it most.”

The potential applications of this technology is game-changing. According to Julielynn, with 3D printing, physical objects can be stored as digital files and therefore supplies can be downloaded across the globe or uplinked to space. Imagine astronauts printing medical supplies, tools, equipment and spare parts in space as they need them? A truly exciting and game-changing application of this technology.

As an extension of this work, Dr. Wong has created a global humanitarian community called Medical Makers (www.medicalmakers.org) to teach others how to use 3D printing and other low-cost technologies to build sustainable solutions to save lives, time, and money.

$25 pink prosthetic hand 3D printed for a Guelph girl with a congenital hand anomaly whose parents can't afford to buy her a new hand every year as she grows.

When asked how Dr. Wong’s journey began, she noted that she was inspired by the vision statement of her alma mater, Queen's University School of Medicine - "To ask questions, seek answers, advance care and inspire change."

She explains that her clinical experiences have informed her mission to apply affordable technologies to allow medical practitioners and those who treat the medically underserved to deliver quality care on a day-to-day basis.

“My dream is to deliver better healthcare by bringing solar-powered suitcase 3D printers to rural Canadian communities to make cost-effective 3D printed medical supplies on demand locally.” Explains Dr. Wong

Dr. Julielynn Wong is the embodiment of Joule’s philosophy to inspire, promote and support physician-led innovation. Julielynn will use the grant funds to further develop 3D4MD and emerging applications of this technology.

“I’m honoured to be a recipient of the Joule Innovation Grant and fortunate to be backed by my counterparts in the CMA membership. It is companies like Joule that allow the work I am doing to continue and advance.” Dr. Wong.

For more information visit: www.3D4MD.com

Forward any comments about this article to: cmanews@cma.ca.