Microsoft recently released an interview with Principal Researcher Antonio Criminisi, one of the leaders of Microsoft’s ongoing InnerEye project using “machine learning [...] for the quantitative analysis of 3D radiological images.” Criminisi described the struggles facing radiologists in diagnosing patients.
“In most cases, radiologists look at images of patients and they need to assess what they are looking at [...] And, unfortunately, nowadays, they don’t have very good tools for doing this [...] assessment and the quantification of the disease. There are no very good quantification tools where you can actually measure, say, the volume of [a] tumor from a radiological image,” he says. InnerEye’s imaging technology helps medical professionals make better decisions on patient treatment by analyzing these radiological images, such as by “plot[ting] the path of progression of the disease with great accuracy and rigor,” says Criminisi.
The lack of good quantification and assessment tools identified by Criminsi and InnerEye is not limited to radiology and applies to all specialties that rely heavily on visual inspection for diagnosis, particularly dermatology and neurology. To address this need in neurology, co-founders Omar Uribe and Mark McDonald formed NeuroView Diagnostics with the mission to create new tools to help medical professionals make better decisions when assessing neurological patients. “We’re developing artificial intelligence algorithms to detect stroke and other neurological diseases based on a visual examination of the patient,” explains Omar, CEO of NeuroView. “NeuroView uses machine learning and computer vision to improve and automate these diagnoses,” adds Mark, Chief Scientific Officer.
“We met when I was a third year in med school and Mark was a second year resident,” Omar recalls. “I remember that all I wanted to do was go home that day, but Mark asked me to help him with something, and of course, as a med student you say yes if a resident asks for something,” he said, shaking his head and chuckling.
“From there, Mark asked me what I was interested in, and I mentioned that I was really interested in medical technology from my background as an engineer,” Omar continues. “ Then Mark told me he was very interested in medical technology as well, and from there we just started talking and realized we wanted to make something together.”
“It was a shared impulse,” Marks says. “At the outset, we weren’t exactly sure where we wanted to go, but we both had a fascination with technology. And what we’ve been seeing is that people in the medical field, particularly in neurology, haven’t been taking advantage of new technological developments. That’s how we decided on NeuroView,” he concludes.
The estimated demand for neurologists in the US exceeds the current capacity by 11%, as calculated by this study from the Neurology scientific journal, and is projected to reach 19% by 2025. This lack of neurologists is even more prevalent globally, with 71 of 84 countries surveyed in 2001 “report[ing] having either no neurologist at all, or fewer than one neurologist for each million of their populations,” as reported in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences.
Omar and Mark see a lot of opportunity for NeuroView’s technology to support the neurologist community. “We want to build a technology that detects neurological deficits in a way that we’ve never been able to do before,” Mark says. “We’re hoping that NeuroView can quantify things and provide an objective metric that neurologists have never had.”
Eventually, NeuroView may even be able to grant medical professionals without a concentration in neurology to be able to be more informed on how to treat their patients. “There’s even potential to automate this, which would be fantastic,” Mark says. “There’s an immense lack of neurologists and neurological expertise. In time, your primary care doctor, a nurse, or even a tech could use this technology to make better decisions regarding treatment or triage of patients with neurological symptoms.”
Mark and Omar are both first-time entrepreneurs and have had a wealth of experiences through their work on NeuroView. “A business partnership is almost like a marriage in some ways,” Mark says, laughing. “It takes a monumental amount of work, and whenever there are big decisions to be made, there’s potential for disagreement. Not only learning to mitigate conflict but learning to make better decisions than you could make by yourself, it’s very interesting.”
The new challenges they’re faced with, however, have only incentivized them to continue their work. “You get thrown into situations you totally didn’t expect and are in no way prepared for… but you have to figure it out anyway,” Omar says regarding his foray into entrepreneurship. “You just go do it, and that’s the fun of it all. It’s always energizing to learn that way.”
“Even though the iLab is just the beginning of the journey for us, the excitement is always there,” Omar elaborates. “I haven’t had a single day waking up where I wasn’t happy to go to work.”
“I like the randomness, too. You never know when someone will tell you something out of the blue that will help you out, and vice versa. It makes me happy -- I love the spontaneity of it all,” Omar summarizes.
About The Team
Omar Uribe was born in Peru and moved to the state of Georgia at the age of 10. He received bachelor’s degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he was an undergraduate researcher, in Biochemistry and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in 2012. After working as a chemist and process engineer, Omar came to the University of Virginia School of Medicine and is currently working toward a Doctor of Medicine degree.
Mark McDonald (far right of photo) grew up in Georgia and received an undergraduate degree in Pre-Medical Studies with a concentration in Psychology, after which he working for two and a half years in an Atlanta-based lab and received a master’s degree in Neurobiology from Georgia State University. He then spent time at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston researching stroke and neurology before coming to the University of Virginia School of Medicine, where he is a current Neurology department resident.
About the Author
Christopher Nelson is a rising second year at New York University in Shanghai, China. He has experience in business operations as well as legal research and contract work. Christopher is currently interning at the UVA Darden School of Business Innovation Lab this summer as an interviewer and journalist.
Note: This article was edited on August 7th, 2018 at 2:37 PM with wording changes and had the header photo replaced with the NeuroView logo. It was further edited on August 8th at 10:23 AM with additional sources provided by Mark McDonald and wording changes to the third paragraph.