to Relocate to Connecticut
ZetrOZ has developed a small, efficient, low-cost, portable/wearable ultrasound system for the treatment of pain in humans and animals. The ZetrOZ device is lightweight and delivers low-intensity, long-duration ultrasound treatment while the patient is sleeping, on the move, or in a doctor’s or physical therapist’s office. The system, which is patent pending, consists of a battery pack (the portable power source), transducers (which provide the ultrasound therapy), and disposable hydrogel patches that attach the transducers to the patient’s body. The technology was developed by ZetrOZ founder and chief scientific officer George Lewis while he was at Cornell University and is licensed exclusively to ZetrOZ.
“No move is easy, but Connecticut has been a fantastic place to relocate to,” commented ZetrOZ chief executive officer Bryant Guffey. “We’re looking forward to creating new clinical and manufacturing relationships in the region to generate even more jobs and cutting-edge technology.”
ZTX, the ZetrOZ system designed for human patients, will deliver up to five hours of continuous therapeutic treatment on a single battery charge and will be the smallest wearable therapeutic ultrasound system available commercially in the world. The company is currently conducting clinical trials and is seeking FDA approval for use of this system in treating pain from arthritis, tendonitis, back strain and other musculoskeletal problems. The system will be available for purchase not only by doctors and physical therapists, who will administer the ultrasound treatments, but also by patients themselves, who can self-administer therapy.
UltrOZ, the ZetrOZ system designed for the equine market, has been on the market since September 2011 and has been well received within that segment, even making an appearance with the U.S. equestrian team at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. It is designed to treat pain, promote healing and reduce the need for invasive therapies.
Last week, ZetrOZ was named a finalist in the prestigious Medical Device Excellence Awards (MDEA) competition, which annually recognizes outstanding medical devices and celebrates the achievements of medical product manufacturers, their suppliers and others who are responsible for developing and engineering innovative products that are improving health care delivery. The winners will be announced on June 19, 2013, at the 15th Annual MDEA Ceremony in Philadelphia.
“Government works best when it recognizes the needs of businesses and helps fulfill those needs. ZetrOZ is a perfect example of the success of the priorities we have supported for the past several years,” said Senator Anthony Musto. “Bringing companies like this to Connecticut, companies that combine cutting-edge technology with healthcare, is the type of investment that is going to grow Connecticut for years to come.”
The company is led by a strong team with considerable scientific and operating experience. Founders include Bryant Guffey, ZetrOZ chief executive officer, who previously led major development projects at General Dynamics; JoAnne Guarino, ZetrOZ chief operating officer, who has over 30 years of experience in management, entrepreneurship and computer technology in her roles in C-level positions at Softpoint Data Systems, TL Power Associates, and Vein & Laser Centers of Central New York; and George Lewis, Ph.D., who, in addition to serving as ZetrOZ’s chief scientific officer, is chairman of the Therapeutic Ultrasound Committee for the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine.
David Wurzer, CI senior managing director of investments, represents CI on ZetrOZ’s board of directors.
The Eli Whitney Fund is CI’s flagship investment initiative. Through the fund, CI makes equity-based investments in early-stage technology companies and provides ongoing strategic support. CI has invested a total of more than $155 million in over 100 companies through the Eli Whitney Fund since 1995.
About Connecticut Innovations Inc.
Connecticut Innovations (CI) is a quasi-public corporation providing equity, debt and bond financing and other forms of financial assistance to companies in all stages of the business life cycle, from startup to later stage. CI offers its portfolio companies strategic guidance and collaborations with partners in business, finance, education, government and nonprofit sectors. CI’s initiatives are designed to grow the state’s economic and technology base, and to stimulate business investments and job creation. For more information on CI, please visitwww.ctinnovations.com.
About ZetrOZ LLC
ZetrOZ™ is a medical device manufacturer that is revolutionizing the ultrasound industry by introducing proprietary technology that is more efficient, more portable, and more economically viable than any ultrasound systems presently available. ZetrOZ’s first product is the world’s smallest ultrasound pain therapy device. This device, slated for launch in late 2013, addresses the demand for non-pharmaceutical alternatives to current pain treatments in the approximately $62 billion U.S. pain management market. ZetrOZ is also known for developing the smallest ultrasound systems in the world, including a recent collaboration with MIT that spun out the first swallowable ultrasound pill. For more information, visit www.zetroz.com.
TRUMBULL, Conn., April 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – ZetrOZ, Inc. (www.zetroz.com) announced today that its Ultroz Elite Wearable Ultrasonic Therapy System has been selected as a finalist in the 15th Annual Medical Design Excellence Awards competition. The Ultroz Elite Wearable Ultrasonic Therapy System is the first of its kind – a miniaturized therapeutic ultrasound system designed and engineered to reduce swelling, relieve pain, speed healing and enhance athletic performance. The device is about the size of an ipod and can be worn during normal activity. The Ultroz Elite is recommended by top Equine veterinarians and physical therapists worldwide. ZetrOZ, Inc. is currently awaiting FDA approval and CE mark for the human version of its wearable ultrasound therapy system.
The Medical Design Excellence Awards (www.MDEAwards.com) are the industry’s premier design awards competition and is the only awards program exclusively recognizing contributions and advances in the design of medical products. Entries are evaluated on the basis of their design and engineering features, including innovative use of materials, user-related functions improving healthcare delivery and changing traditional medical attitudes or practices, features providing enhanced benefits to the patient, and the ability of the product development team to overcome design and engineering challenges so the product meets its clinical objectives.
A comprehensive review of the entries was performed by an impartial, multidisciplinary panel of third-party jurors with expertise in biomedical engineering, human factors, industrial design, medicine, and diagnostics.
“We are honored to be recognized by the MDEA judges,” said Bryant Guffey , CEO of ZetrOZ, Inc. “The widespread adoption of our wearable ultrasound systems in the medical veterinary community and on top equine athletes has been a fantastic and rewarding experience. We’re looking forward to introducing the product for human use later this year.”
Finalists in each of the competition’s ten categories were officially announced in the April issue of Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry (www.mddionline.com) magazine. The winners will be announced on June 19, 2013, during a cocktail reception starting at 4:30 pm at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Philadelphia. The ceremony will be held in conjunction with the 30th MD&M East event (www.MDMEast.com) at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, June 19, 2013. MDEA-winning products will be honored at the ceremony with Bronze, Silver, or Gold-level awards in each category. One Gold -winning product will be awarded ‘Best-in-Show’.
The Medical Design Excellence Awards are underwritten and presented by UBM Canon, the global advanced manufacturing and MedTech authority, and by Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry (MD+DI), the industry’s central source for late breaking news, information, and business intelligence.
George Lewis – Co-founder of ZetrOZ
We are constantly generating innovative tactics and design changes. We’ll throw an idea on the board; the next thing you know, we’ve drafted prototypes. An engineer then builds it; the next day, it’s being tested. We have an extremely fast turnaround, creating a concept, building the model, building it up to a function, and testing it — that can be done in a matter of a couple of days.
Dr. George Lewis, PhD, is the chief science officer and co-founder of ZetrOZ, a company revolutionizing the ultrasound industry by introducing proprietary ultrasound generation technology that is more efficient, more portable, and more economically viable than any ultrasound technology presently available. Lewis has integrated his ultrasound miniaturization technology into many academic, industry research, and commercialization efforts, including non-invasive surgeries, prenatal imaging, cancer ablation, and wound healing.
What are you working on right now?
We’ve done a lot of consumer work with our device. We did some human factor analysis, and the results are coming back strong. We’re in the process of really locking down the design for manufacturing the wearable ultrasound system. As a startup company, you go through different phases. We are at that final stage, where we have awesome technology that works. People like that we manufacture it as inexpensively as possible; we’re trying to do all our manufacturing in the United States. We want to work with a local company, so we’ve been touring different facilities and discussing ways to drive our price down.
What does your typical day look like?
My typical day is constantly changing. I used to be in the lab all the time, where the engineers could use me as a sounding board if they ran into trouble with the electronics or the execution of the design; these days, we’re in the next phase of manufacturing and design. We’re touring various manufacturing facilities in Connecticut and New York, verifying that our suppliers can meet our needs and scale with us, so I have days in the office and days when I travel. I have an open-door policy, so everyone knows they’re welcome to stop by and talk shop. We often have ping pong matches during lunch, adding a bit of fun to everyone’s workday. I leave work around 7:30 p.m. to head over to the fixer-upper my wife and I recently purchased. We work on the house until 1 or 2 a.m., painting and renovating; we find it incredibly relaxing, and it’s a great way to finish the day. Then, I pass out for a couple hours and show up the next day at 8 a.m.
How does your team bring ideas to life?
We are constantly generating innovative tactics and design changes. We’ll throw an idea on the board; the next thing you know, we’ve drafted prototypes. An engineer then builds it; the next day, it’s being tested. We have an extremely fast turnaround, creating a concept, building the model, building it up to a function, and testing it — that can be done in a matter of a couple of days.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I am excited that there are more medically-oriented devices being created, and that the consumer healthcare marketplace is becoming so tech-savvy. We are even seeing a breakthrough in our own devices, such as with the ultrasound system being utilized by the consumer. This movement allows sales to pick up and prices to drop.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had, and what did you learn from it?
I had a job working for a corporation’s research organization. It was the worst job I’ve ever had because I was given the same menial task to complete every day, but they wanted someone with a PhD to do it from a regulatory compliance standpoint. I remember going to work, just dreading what I was going to do. There was no creativity involved, and it was really just doing tests and measurements. I realized I wasn’t meant to work in a large company or a bureaucratic organization. My personality, and the way I like to create and work, just didn’t match up.
What is one business idea you would be willing to give away to our readers?
I have been using LinkedIn as a research tool, and it’d be pretty cool to have a software algorithm that could utilize your resources in LinkedIn to find information about marketing and assess how people are doing their jobs. For example, you could create an analytical tool to search where people graduated from and make a direct correlation to where they were hired. You could then use your findings to boost your hiring profits.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I think I would get a PhD in quantum physics, instead of biomedical engineering and, potentially, be one of those crazy physicists developing new theories.
As a business leader, what’s one thing you do over and over, and recommend everyone else should do?
I always try to motivate my employees. I have an open-door policy, and I think that’s really important. If you’re leading a company and you have a bunch of talented individuals who are in challenging situations and you want to build camaraderie, brainstorming sessions and open-door policies allow your team to talk through things that need to be done. It is so critical for any sort of small business.
What’s one failure that you think you’ve had as a business leader, or the team, and how did you overcome it?
Early on, we got a lot of pushback on raising our financial backing to support the product launch. A lot of that failure came from our lack of proficiency in the language, preventing us from really making the case for the technology and the product. At the time, we lacked credibility and experience — we struggled a lot by not creating the right story. Bringing on advocates, both from the medical community and the investment community, developed our reputation.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would that be, and how would you go about doing it?
I personally feel like one of the greatest challenges to mankind is cryptic knowledge. In westernized civilization, knowledge is abundant, but there are a lot of different cultures that don’t have access to the information we do. Even in Asia, there’s a lot of governmental scrutiny on what they have the ability to access online, and what sort of information gets in and out of those countries. I would develop a method for improving access to shared knowledge. We’re going to have to bridge those various cultures and ideas in order to be a successful society. We need a strategy for getting into space and the next frontier. If we can share knowledge and educate the masses, we can do that.
Tell us a secret.
I am extremely afraid of flying. I want to learn how to fly, and I don’t mind flying in small airplanes, but I hate commercial aircrafts.
What are three of your favorite online tools or resources that you use, and what do you love about them?
I love Google Scholar because it’s a pretty robust search engine that covers patents, as well as academic articles. It’s useful when researching current literature and up-to-date innovations in science.
I am becoming a huge fan of LinkedIn for multiple reasons. It allows you to see where people get hired, what their experience is, what their interests are, and even what others from the same background or company have done.
I also really like Dropbox because it allows us to share so much data at our company. We have hundreds of gigabytes of data on Dropbox; it’s everything you want in an online tool: useful, efficient, effective, and cost-effective.
What’s one book that you recommend the community on IdeaMensch should read and why?
“Ultrasonic Testing Materials” is about different ways to test ultrasound. Most people would find it incredibly boring, but I got so into this book. I read this book on my honeymoon, while my wife was reading “50 Shades of Grey,” to put it in perspective.
When was the last time you laughed out loud, and what caused it?
We play ping pong every day at lunch now, and the competitions have made it absolutely crazy. People have some crazy moves, and we always laugh when we play because you never know what someone’s going to do!
Who is your hero?
My dad is my hero. He is probably the most intelligent individual I know — he’s very down-to-earth, very passionate, and a good family man. You know, he’s just an all-around awesome guy. I really look up to him. In all regards, he is a mentor and hero.
What made you want to focus on ultrasound technology?
Back in middle school, I worked in my dad’s lab at Interlogic in Peabody, Mass.; my dad was a director of ultrasound research and development. I didn’t really understand what I was doing, but I knew I was working on ultrasound devices. I got to play with some of the imaging systems and the various devices that Interlogic was commercializing.
In high school, I worked near the lab and in my dad’s lab. I had an appreciation of how to build an ultrasound device and what made up an ultrasound system. When I went to college, I got started in the mechanical engineering program at the University of Miami. Then, I found out they had a biomedical engineering program; I took a class in biomedical engineering and absolutely loved it. I transitioned into biomedical engineering after my first semester. Over the next few years, I would find projects for classes so boring that I would recommend to my professors that I do something in ultrasound — and I stuck with it.
What is the best part about working in Trumbull?
The best thing about working in Trumbull is that we have an awesome location and an awesome facility. We’re centered right next to Bridgeport, which is a major industrial town. It’s in hardship right now from the economic downturn, but it’s starting to pick up again. Bridgeport is just such a fun city. It’s got good food, and we have a diverse ethnic group here. Our facility is fantastic — we have brand-new labs and offices, and lots of space. The community has been really behind us. People come up to me and say, “Hey, we’re really excited to have you here.”
Is the product made by a company you trust? If you’ve never heard of the company before, do some online research to determine whether it’s reputable — and if other consumers are benefitting from the product. A good place to start is the company’s website; look for a company statement, customer testimonials, etc. But don’t stop there. Other good sources to consult include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), PubMed.gov, ThomasNet.com, Forbes.com, and Consumer Reports. While looking at other sources, keep an eye out for “bad press” — things like consumers experiencing adverse effects and product recalls. Also, check whether the product is FDA-approved. The FDA regulates food, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices to protect consumers’ health.
Know how your device works. Basic knowledge of the technology your device uses is helpful. For example, if the device uses ultrasound therapy to relieve pain, research what ultrasound is and how it works. Understanding the technology will help you use the device correctly and derive the greatest benefits from it. Know the product’s intended use to make sure it matches the ailment you want to treat. And if you do purchase the device, read the directions carefully to ensure you are using it as intended by the manufacturer.
Consult your doctor. Your doctor may not have suggested the device to you, but he likely has some knowledge of it (or can ask another professional who does) to help you decide if it’s a good purchase.
Check your health insurance. Does it cover the cost or reimburse you for the device?
Find out where you can buy the product and what you need. Stores like CVS or Walgreens carry some medical devices so you can look at them in person, allowing you to read labels and instructions more easily. Find out if your doctor carries the product in his or her office, and check different vendors and websites, such as Amazon. Not only will you gather information and reviews about the product, but you can also compare prices and find the best value. It is also important to know if you need anything before you purchase the device, such as a prescription from your doctor.
- See more at: http://www.thehealthymoms.net/2013/03/house-call-vetting-at-home-medical.html#sthash.XXcfjldN.dpuf
From Insiders Health
The ways people are approaching home health care are changing due to consumer attitudes and emerging technologies or trends.
Over the last decade, there has been an ongoing convergence between personal care and health care technologies in the household. As the average consumer becomes more educated about his medical health through various media, he becomes more proactive about bringing questions and options to his physician instead of the physician acting as the primary knowledge base for the consumer.
Trends in Health-Care Technology
The proactive consumer health movement is flowing both ways. People are looking for their own information, and pharmaceutical companies are marketing drugs directly to the people using media channels. I can’t recall the last time I did not see an ad during primetime commercial breaks for some type of pill to help relieve my ailments!
Health care that is non-invasive and does not require clinical expertise to deliver is leaving the doctor’s office and medical centers and being grouped into “hygiene,” “skin health,” “pain and rehabilitation,” and “quality of life” technologies. This is a good thing, since most technologies that are relatively safe to self-administer generally need to be used on a regular basis with good patient compliance to be effective.
Technology is now making a huge push into home health care and healthy living to fill the need for the savvy consumer. These include health apps for your phone to track nutrition, exercise, smoking, etc. New medical innovation is being driven into home health care while improving the efficiency of many health care technologies. Home health care used to be considered health care to help seniors live independently for as long as possible. This, however, is definitely not the case anymore.
Pros and Cons
At-home health care places more responsibility on the consumer to comply with the treatment or technology, and it gives physicians more of a monitoring role to assure compliance. This provides an amazing opportunity to provide more effective, consistent, and controlled treatments — something clinicians wish they could do but which is limited by patient access.
A perfect example is ultrasound therapy for joint and muscle pain. Traditionally, ultrasound would be administered during physical therapy once or twice a week as part of a rehabilitation or “stay active” program. This in itself limited the effectiveness of the ultrasound treatment. Today, with the advent of mobile and wearable ultrasound, patients are able to self-administer the therapy easily in their own home over the course of the week and check in with the physical therapist at their next appointment.
Benefits of at-home Health Care
Another benefit is improved health care access. Consistency is the best policy for medical treatment, and if a treatment can be administered more regularly and the patient can be monitored more closely, the chances of a better outcome are statistically higher.
At-home health care lowers costs. Anyone who has been to a hospital lately knows that the overhead is ridiculously high because of the insurance companies and regulations that make health care so expensive in the United States. Home health care lowers the costs by removing clinician time and some insurance burdens from the picture. Patients can treat themselves at home, which keeps the costs of health care down and gives them some extra money to potentially spend on additional health care options.
Current and Future Health Care Products
With the surge of mobile technologies, continuous access to streaming digital content, at-home care management and monitoring have really taken off. Doctors will always have their place in the health care system — particularly for life-threatening and unique situations — but for everyday ailments such as back pain, knee arthritis, muscle soreness, and ear infections, a visit to the doctor’s office is almost out of the picture.
Diagnostics. The clinical checklist for common ailments can be done on a mobile phone, through an online video conference, or even in a simple self-assessment. When I was a child, my mother used to call up my pediatrician and tell him that her son had an ear infection, and shortly thereafter, I would be going down to the drug store with my mom to pick up penicillin. There was no need to go to the doctor’s office if my mom knew what was wrong. Now, some companies are even beginning to design self-diagnostic systems that report directly to the clinician for prescription approval.
Therapies. The efficiency and performance of medical technology continues to improve as devices get smaller and cheaper to produce. As a result, the quality and cost of care is getting better and better. Breathing machines are no longer tethered by wires, insulin pumps smaller than a pager last for weeks on a single battery charge, and clinically-delivered or applied treatments such as ultrasound, injections, and wound care are making their way into the at-home health care category.
At ZetrOZ, we’ve created the TheraSonX wearable ultrasound system, an innovative miniaturized ultrasound device that allows people to self-administer a safe, long-duration therapeutic treatment every day at their convenience. This technology uses state-of-the-art electronics and battery designs to take a traditional 25-pound doctor’s office device and make it the size and weight of an iPod.
Patients and Physicians Speeding the Process Along
At-home health care is really driven by the consumers and patients themselves. It requires an informed and educated patient who is willing to take control of his or her own health and rely less on clinicians as the primary caregivers. Fortunately, many doctors are supportive of home health care since it helps them provide better care for their patients. Unfortunately, many new technologies that are entering the home health care segment may not be well understood or known by the clinical community, which makes it very important for patients to do their homework and look for devices and technologies that may help them in their daily lives. Another difficulty is gaining access to these new technologies, since many devices require prescription approval.
At the end of the day, the more proactive people are about taking control of their health and lifestyle, the quicker the breadth of home health care technologies will expand.
ITHACA, N.Y., Dec. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — ZetrOZ LLC announced today that it has donated three equine therapy systems to charitable rehabilitation facilities.
JoAnne Guarino, COO of ZetrOZ LLC who developed and manufactures the UltrOZ Elite Equine Therapy announced the donation. “We are committed to supporting the equine community as our products play a major role in injury prevention and therapy. Even though we are a relatively young start-up company, we are all horse owners and beyond the commercialization of our products it is also of vital importance for us to dedicate and support equine not-for-profit and rehabilitation facilities.”
ZetrOZ participated in the recent AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) conference in Anaheim California. Three veterinarians were randomly selected and were asked to nominate a facility to receive the UltrOZ system.
UltrOZ Elite systems will be provided to the following facilities: Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Center in Bradbury California a facility that transitions horses from racing to the sport horse community, selected by Dr. Samantha Abair of West Coast Equine. MACH 1 Therapeutic Riding (Move A Child Higher) Center in Pasadena California specializes in programs for disabled riders and was selected by Dr. Kurt Hoffman. Brook Hill Farm in Forest Virginia, a non-profit horse rescue organization was selected by Dr. Barbara Siegel.
“Our innovative medical device technology is gaining notoriety and support from practitioners and owners,” states Ms. Guarino. “We are proud of the continuous stream of case-studies and testimonials attesting to the safe and effective treatment alternative that UltrOZ provides for horses.”
ZetrOZ LLC was established in 2009 and the company develops and manufactures therapeutic ultrasound systems that were developed in Cornell University by its founders. UltrOZ Elite is the latest in miniaturized medical device technology and uses innovative and patented Low Intensity Therapeutic Ultrasound (LIUS). The company’s products are “wearable” and allow portable and continuous, unattended and safe ultrasound therapy for 5+ hours.
For additional information contact:
When George Lewis was 9, his parents gave him a box for Christmas. Inside, were parts to a gas-powered truck. The inquisitive boy, born in Boston, put it together as swiftly as Anthony Bourdain could whip up grilled rabbit.
By middle school, George could solder an electrical cable onto individual ultrasound transfuse elements, thanks to his father, a medical engineer. And in high school, versed in physics and engineering, he bought an inoperable Chevy, took it apart, and put it back together for his mode of transportation.
At the University of Miami, Lewis developed a non-invasive solution to monitoring artificial tissues grown in vitro, accessing how tissues were growing out of their macroscopic structure using high frequency ultrasound waves.
Today, at only 28, with a doctorate from Cornell University in biomedical, neurobiology and mechanical engineering, he is the founder and chief scientific officer of the Ithaca based company, ZetrOZ. Under the ZetrOZ banner, Lewis created the world’s smallest and first wearable ultrasound system called, Therasonx.
The lightweight, ultrasound device reduces swelling and pain and increases joint mobility. Lewis hopes the drug-free device will become the sensible replacement for aspirin. The company is awaiting FDA approval and will be priced just under $1,000.
“The key advantage to Therasonx, versus systemic drugs, is that it’s local treatment with local recovery,” said Lewis, adding that it increases circulation to the area where you apply it with a specially engineered ultrasound bandage.
“Ultrasound is a time-tested technology and Therasonx is no different than any other therapeutic ultrasound,” said Dr. Lyndon Hernandez, medical advisor to ZetrOZ.
And, because it’s portable, anyone can use it while they work, run or even sleep.
“The ultrasound device enables nutrients, oxygen and all other things that help tissues grow and regenerate to reach avascular tissues used to living in an environmentwithout blood vessels going directly into them and providing them with nutrients,” said Hernandez.
Human clinical trials are under way at Cayuga Medical Center and SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.
It already has been field-tested, in a sense. Since 2011, the product has been used on the legs of horses belonging to the U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team.
“It comes with a special wrap so that horses can move while wearing the device,” said JoAnne Guarino, ZetrOz’s chief operating officer, “It’s sold for $1,300 under the name UltrOZ and helps horses with inflammation, tendinitis and joint stiffness. It’s incredibly effective on horses and we can’t wait to offer it to people.”
“The key for any entrepreneur is to have a passion and know to place people around them to support their vision.”
Dr. George Lewis, PhD is the chief science officer and co-founder of ZetrOZ, a company that is revolutionizing the ultrasound industry by introducing proprietary ultrasound generation technology that is more efficient, more portable, and more economically viable than any ultrasound technology presently available. Lewis is a prolific inventor that was born, raised, and educated in ultrasound physics and wave propagation. Lewis has integrated his ultra-low impedance ultrasound miniaturization technology into many academic, industry research, and commercialization efforts, including non-invasive surgeries, pre-natal imaging, cancer ablation, and wound healing. His doctoral studies in neurobiology (minor), mechanical engineering (minor), and biomedical-chemical engineering (primary) at Cornell University focused on ultrasonic applications for drug delivery in glioblastoma therapy. Lewis used his previous leadership and business experience to build a team around portable ultrasound applications, ultimately leading to the founding of ZetrOZ.
MO: When did you become interested in ultrasound technology?
George: I was born and raised learning about and playing with ultrasound devices. Growing up, my father was, and still is, a biomedical ultrasound engineer. He always had a lot of ultrasound-based medical devices around the house that he used to show me, which I would handle and interact with.
I really got interested in ultrasound when I began working in my father’s laboratory at Analogic in Peabody, Mass. This was from middle school through high school. Even though I did not know what I was doing until I got older, I was taught how to build ultrasound transducers and test them with acoustical measurement equipment.
When I went off to college, I started in the mechanical engineering program at the University of Miami. Within the first year I realized my passion was helping people and developing innovative medical technologies, so I transitioned into the biomedical engineering program. Shortly thereafter I leveraged my skill set from working with my father in ultrasound, and begun focusing my education in biomedical ultrasound technology — this included my senior design project that won me the Biomedical Engineering Society Rita Schaffer Award for outstanding biomedical engineering student.
When I started my Ph.D. studies, I used my love and knowledge of ultrasound and spun medical ultrasound research into my Ph.D., post-doctorate, and now ZetrOZ.
MO: Can you give our readers an overview of the human products that ZetrOZ is developing?
George: ZetrOZ is developing a suite of consumer-oriented products to support the transition of ultrasound from a “unique, high-tech” technology, to something that can be made readily available to the masses. The technology that we have engineered over the past six years focuses on making ultrasound systems super small, ultra portable, and battery operated. This is like taking the computer workstation and turning it into your cell phone.
Our first product that we have launched is a therapeutic, long-duration ultrasound treatment system for veterinary applications (UlrOZ). This is the first ultrasound device to provide daily therapeutic ultrasound treatments for more than five hours. The results from case studies on horses, as well as a range of basic science and translational science work we and our collaborators have conducted, showcases the technology in fracture healing, a vascular tissue repair (tendons, ligaments and cartilage), and muscle recovery.
Our second product is clinically oriented and focuses on treating musculoskeletal pain for humans. This will be the first multi-hour wearable, therapeutic ultrasound system that can provide traditional ultrasound therapy in the convenience of one’s life — so you won’t need to go to a physical therapist. Furthermore, the technology is poised to be a replacement for pain medications that have dangerous contraindications and host a range of outward side effects. The wearable ultrasound device will help people with both acute- and chronic-pain conditions.
In addition to these primary products, we have research and development on a suite of new ultrasound transducers, electronics, and software to support innovative ultrasound technology of the future. This includes ultrasound pills for diagnostic and therapeutic applications, ultrasonic chemical processing systems for commercial refineries, ultrasonic food processing, ultrasonic welding systems, and of course, many different types of ultrasound medical devices, i.e. tools for tissue emulsification, drug delivery, and healing.
MO: For the health care industry, your team is fairly young to be making such headlines. What would be your advice for other young entrepreneurs who want to venture into this industry?
George: What is amazing about our team is that we all share a passion for science, marketing, and business. So though we are young, we have all been entrepreneurial our whole lives and have used our education and training to support one another. The key for any entrepreneur is to have a passion and know to place people around them to support their vision. Our industry in the medical device arena is particularly challenging since science and engineering plays a very critical role. The regulatory challenges and various certifications that are required are not trivial, and it requires perseverance to see a medical device through the long haul. Fortunately, our entire management team has a scientific and healthcare background, so even though we manage different areas of ZetrOZ, we have an understanding of how important our individual roles are and how we can affect and help each other.
So my advice to an entrepreneur who wanted to start a company in the medical device industry would be to have a founding team that has complimentary experiences and a level-headed collaborative approach to working together. The vision is generally pretty focused, however; the path to the vision constantly evolves and having a team that works well together and understands each other is of critical importance.
MO: ZetrOZ has pulled many of their employees from connections at Cornell University. How has starting this business while you were getting your doctorate benefited the company?
George: ZetrOZ actually started only after my second year of work while I was at Cornell. Interestingly, I was able to meet my co-founding members through the MBA program and the Biomedical Engineering program at Cornell. So indeed all the founding members were affiliated with Cornell in some way, making it very easy to meet and discuss our vision and pathway.
Being in an academic environment provided its own challenges, often providing too many opportunities for ZetrOZ. We must have brainstormed more than 300 ideas that the technology we were developing could be used for, and all the professors and scientists only added to the crazy — and — not so crazy ideas. Nevertheless, it was a great nurturing environment, and the university supported our entrepreneurial spirit with many resources.
Though our founding members are all from Cornell and we have three employees that were Cornell-affiliated, we have also brought in talent from California, Illinois, Georgia, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. So we are always looking for the best fit for ZetrOZ.
MO: What is the next step for ZetrOZ products on the journey to be used by everyday citizens?
George: Our first ultrasound technology is going to be a wearable pain therapy system that provides long-duration ultrasound treatment for pains like arthritis, tendinitis, inflammatory conditions, muscle tares, and sprain. We have already conducted a number of clinical research studies on various pain-producing conditions like knee arthritis, back spasm, and shoulder tendinitis — the device provides excellent pain reductions and can be used as an adjunct to current medications.
So people can expect to see the wearable pain therapy system available through their doctor or physical therapist as a go-to therapy for sports injuries and everyday pain. Shortly thereafter we will launch another series of ultrasound technologies focused on healing injuries, such as cuts, bruises, bones, and chronic ulcers.
Last but not least, expect to see the ZetrOZ technology enter into consumer-care products, such as hygiene and skin health.
MO: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your entrepreneurial ride with your team thus far?
George: One of the most rewarding aspects has been reflecting on the company’s past and seeing the stereotypical aspects to a company’s growth, i.e. moving from a house to an office to a corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility. ZetrOZ began out of my home office-lab (a 6-by-8-foot room in 2009), transitioned to a 12-by-12-foot office downtown Ithaca in 2010, grew into a 3000-square-foot facility in downtown Ithaca from 2011 to 2012, and is now expanding into a 6500-sqare-foot manufacturing and research facility in 2013. It is rewarding to look back into all your hard work and see what your perspiration has achieved.
It is also very rewarding to reflect on the learning and experiences you are thrown into in a startup company. For our first product launch, I handled the engineering of the device, packaging, labeling, and branding. It is pretty awesome that the inventor of the technology actually got to come up with the logo for the name and logo on the product! It is also rewarding to assess the current state of the company and find that I am no longer handling the logos and branding now that we have a marketing team and graphic designer on staff!
Last but not least, it is very rewarding to be a good boss and mentor for my employees. It is really great to lead the science and engineering team, and I have an amazing group of talented individuals working together for a unified goal of making ultrasound broadly accessible, convenient, and easy to use in everyday life.