After developing a revolutionary technology that allows us to 3D-print living human tissues, we are now creating innovative drug testing platforms that can reduce our reliance on animal testing and bring better and safer treatments to market faster.
It was only a generation ago that people who set out to innovate in different fields were limited by the unknown. In today’s world we suffer from the exact opposite. With all the knowledge and data available to us today we have the building blocks needed to create and innovate. In this respect there is a real opportunity for engineering to play a key role in making our lives healthier, happier and more efficient through the use of information and knowledge.
At Aspect Biosystems, for example, we create living human tissue. We can only do this because over the past several decades we have acquired so much knowledge of our human biology. People have taken the human body apart, now we can apply engineering to rebuild different parts of it.
As far back as I can remember I knew that engineering was a field that drew my attention. I would always take things apart and try to put them back together in creative ways, using the basic materials I had to bring new things to life.
With time my interests developed into a need to create things that were useful — things that ultimately created value and meant something to people. So when I started at UBC, I chose electrical and computer engineering with a biomedical focus. Applying engineering to health care and medicine will allow us to make advancements that can directly impact people’s well-being.
When I applied to complete my graduate studies I was interested in more than just research for the sake of research. I felt that it was only when research made the transition from the lab to the marketplace would people ultimately see the benefit. My graduate supervisor and I realized we had very similar mindsets. We went for a walk one day and discussed our ideas. What if we could print human tissues for drug testing? Or even for transplantation? What if we commercialized this idea? This really resonated with me.
We founded Aspect Biosystems while I was working on my master’s degree. I started my PhD in electrical and computer engineering at UBC, but put that on hold to pursue my entrepreneurial ambitions and focus on building and growing Aspect Biosystems. I previously served as chief technology officer of the company and currently I am the President & CEO where I lead an outstanding team of engineers, scientists and business professionals as we work towards building a global biotechnology company here in Vancouver.