Nicole Wake – “Although 3D printing is being utilized at many hospitals, I’d like to see it become fully incorporated into the medical infrastructure”

Nicole Wake, a PhD candidate in biomedical imaging at the Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at NYU School of Medicine, is investigating the intersection of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), 3D printing, and medical practice. She has coupled MRI data with a range of 3D printing technologies to create individualized anatomically precise cancer models for pre-operative planning. She is using these models to guide clinical care and is investigating the impact that these models can make in pre-surgical planning and patient outcomes.

Nicole, what was your very first experience with 3D Printing?

In my biomedical imaging lab at the NYU School of Medicine, we have a Fortus 360mc printer that was bought to print housing for custom made radiofrequency MRI coils. I was curious to see if we could also use this printer to print anatomically accurate medical models and successfully printed aorta and pelvis models.

As a PhD candidate in biomedical imaging at the Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at NYU School of Medicine, I understand you are investigating the intersection of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), 3D printing, and medical practice.
Could you let us know a bit more about this field you are studying?

Many medical institutions are starting to use 3D printing for surgical planning; however, there is limited quantitative data on the impact that pre-operative 3D printing can make in medicine. In addition, although there are many imaging modalities which can be used to create patient-specific 3D printed anatomical models, most models are currently made using CT data. The goal of my study is to create patient-specific 3D models from MRI data and to determine whether adding new methods of data visualization, including 3D printed or augmented reality models, will impact surgical planning decisions and impact patient outcomes in patients with kidney and prostate cancer.

Anything exciting coming up you’d like us to know about?

The Mayo Clinic has a course dedicated to medical 3D printing, “Collaborative 3D Printing in Medical Practice” which is happening this month: February 23-25. In conjunction with this course, the RSNA 3D Printing SIG will also be meeting to discuss innovative 3D printing technology and implications for the radiology specialty. The RSNA 3D SIG is an engaged community crossing all subspecialties of medicine, with radiology at the intersection: www.RSNA.org/3D-Printing-SIG

What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?

I think bioprinting is very impressive and think that it could have huge implications for organ transplants in the future.

What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you?

Women are underrepresented in science and engineering fields. I’m excited to be working in this exciting field and to hope to demonstrate the added value that 3D printing can make in patient care.

What do you think of the 3D printing industry today? And how would you like to see it evolve?

The field of 3D printing is expanding rapidly. 3D printing is being used in many fields to accelerate product development, create customized products, and to increase production flexibility. Although 3D printing is being utilized at many hospitals, I’d like to see it become fully incorporated into the medical infrastructure.

In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?

3D printing is an incredible opportunity. We need to encourage women that anyone can learn 3D printing and provide women with mentorship and resources.


Thank you for reading and for sharing! 

We invite you to join Women in 3D Printing on LinkedIn and to like our Facebook page for further discussion.

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