Star Trek Technology Becomes a Medical Reality at UH

Imagine a human heart or skull being examined in a virtual 3D environment in a doctor’s office or hospital room. While one might expect to see Dr. Leonard McCoy carrying out this analysis in the sickbay aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise in Star Trek, this augmented or virtual reality (AR/VR) technology is actually available today from Radial3D, Inc., a University of Hawai‘i-based spinoff company. The company, with deep roots at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), is building a website for doctors to diagnose diseases using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans in a 3D mixed AR/VR environment to give doctors, patients and researchers a new and exciting way to view medical images in “eye popping” detail and clarity on a computer or mobile device.   

Radial3D was initiated by Dr. Scott Lozanoff in JABSOM’s Department of Anatomy, Biochemistry & Physiology.  Existing 3D medical imaging software is not very user-friendly and Lozanoff and his team set out to create an agile web-based system for disease diagnosis and treatment, as well as patient education, using medical images and AR/VR visualization. 

Dr. Scott Lozanoff talks about the use of virtual reality technology in medicine. Photo: JABSOM

“Our vision is to engender a paradigm shift in radiology through the use of a web-based, collaborative, zero-footprint VR/AR visualization system with relevant tools for remote consultation through personal electronic devices,” said Lozanoff.  “The mission of Radial3D is to use this new technology to increase the accuracy and speed of disease diagnosis.” 

The Radial3D team comprises of a talented group of young and aggressive entrepreneurs with expertise in anatomy, radiology, computer programming and graphics, hardware configurations and business development—powered by funding and business mentorship from the University of Hawai‘i’s accelerator program, XLR8UH, and the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship at the Shidler College of Business.

The team leader is CEO Jesse Thompson, JABSOM’s technical director of anatomical imaging, who is tasked with implementing AR/VR learning in medical education as a means to improve student engagement, increase conceptualization of complex anatomical spatial relationships, and to decrease formal classroom time requirements.  Evan Young, who serves as the CFO, is a serial entrepreneur who recently returned from Silicon Valley to join Radial3D after pitching for another VR startup. Co-founder McKay Davis was a computer programmer and graphics developer of Seg3D—initiated at the NIH Center for Integrative Biomedical Computing at the University of Utah. Rounding out the members of the Radial3D team are JABSOM’s Dr. Ahmed Abdelkarim and Michele Tom, as well as newest member of the team—Leland Lopez, a local front-end developer, who is responsible for creating many of the web service components. 

“These personal connections were facilitated through local technology and outreach organizations like the High Technology Development Corporation and HICapacity—that serve as a primary entrepreneurial networking facilitators in Hawai‘i,” added Lozanoff.

Radial3D is building support for common web devices including mobile phones, laptops and tablets and recently launched a closed-beta pilot program in collaboration with several medical and dental schools such as the University of Heidelberg, Case Western Reserve University and Bern University. Medical students at the University of Hawai‘i and medical professionals can apply for closed-beta testing by enrolling in Radial3D’s program at 

“Given the current and anticipated physician shortage in Hawai‘i, as well as other under-served areas, Radial3D is well positioned to improve patient health care by enhancing diagnostic approaches and consultations at a distance, thereby facilitating patient access to medical expertise in remote regions throughout the world,” said Jerris Hedges, dean of JABSOM.

As further testament to the confidence experts in both the medical and innovation arenas have in Radial3D, the company recently secured funding from Quake Capital, a Los Angeles-based venture capital firm that will be providing office space, mentorship and further startup support. Team members Young, Davis and Lopez will be temporarily relocating to Los Angeles to participate in the 12-week program that will put them in touch with Quake’s extensive network of investors and potential acquirers in the city’s sprawling tech hub. “We are extremely pleased with our team’s well-rounded effort in the prototyping, business and technical aspects that put us on the radar with Quake Capital,” said Young. “This is the next step in our journey and as we continue our work to make Radial3D a successful venture—we are proud to be representing JABSOM and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.”