Using 3D printers in the medical field
Jody Mou’s work in biology and engineering has led to multiple new product designs
Toronto-born wunderkind Jody Mou has already accomplished more for the betterment of the planet before the age of 20 than most of us could ever hope to. During her time at University of Toronto Schools, she claims to have “tried a little bit of everything” but ultimately found that scientific research sparked a keen interest for her.
In addition to her accomplishments in science, she ran track at the city and provincial level until Grade 10 and did a fair bit of visual art co-editing her yearbook.
“The greatest thing about UTS is that everyone has a talent, and you find things that fit what you like and put all your energy into it,” she says.
However, science and engineering is where Mou truly shines. She worked with the Foundation for Student Science and Technology, a nonprofit organization that promotes science and engineering, with a quarterly peer-reviewed research journal, to high school students.
“I was in a few labs at the University of Toronto,” she says. “At the McGuigan Lab at IBBME, we were working with a bio printer to find a method for printing 3D tumour models.”
That year, after working through Grade 12 and into the summer, Mou presented her work at a science fair and went on to the Sanofi-Biogenius Competition finals in Ottawa, where the rising science star placed third and took home the award for the entry with the most commercial potential.
“I met a lot of people I’m still friends with today,” she says of the competition.
While still in high school, Mou also figured out a way to 3D print medical tools. Working with 3D4MD, an organization that makes lower-cost 3D printing humanitarian solutions for people worldwide, Mou and her peers did several designs for medical diagnostic tools that would be over 20 times cheaper than existing tools.
“We printed hundreds and tested them out with doctors, and we want to move toward FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] approval,” she says. “Maybe one day our designs will be something doctors everywhere can use.”
And even though Mou is truly an exceptional student, she remains modest to a fault.
“Biology and engineering just happened to be the two things I did in high school. I was also interested in visual arts, so it made sense,” she says. “I love how what I’m studying is really a way to use creativity and engineering skills to solve realworld problems.”
Now Mou has a coveted spot at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., focusing on regenerative immune engineering.
“I’m currently working in a lab that researches regenerative medicine,” she explains. “I’m mostly just learning and observing now at the Elisseeff Lab, but we’re working on an immunomodulatory biomaterial that helps wounds heal faster.”
Mou is also the head of product development on her neurosurgery team, Cortitech. In 2017, the team developed a less invasive brain retractor for tumour removal in neurosurgery.
“Cortitech has raised over $30,000 in funding for our neurosurgical brain retractor, and we are planning to submit a patent for our product, the Radiex,” says Mou. “We had no idea we would raise so much money or get where we were with our medical designs. I go in wanting to learn and then put all my time and energy into things.”
And although Mou says it’s not about going in and trying to change the world, it’s exceedingly possible that she may do just that.
Mou and her team raised $30,000 in funding for their brain retractor