Nicole Moskowitz Featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Advancing Healthcare
Biomedical engineer Nicole Moskowitz ’14 MS ’15 recently made Forbes’ annual list of 30 Under 30 shaping the future of healthcare. She is co-founder and chief technology officer of IntuiTap Medical, a startup developing a handheld device designed to eliminate the guesswork from spinal punctures.
Nearly 13 million times per year in the United States alone, physicians must access the spinal canal for epidural steroid injections in pain management, lumbar punctures, or spinal and epidural anesthesia in obstetrics or orthopedic surgery. Conventional techniques often require multiple attempts to properly place the needle, which can be both time-consuming and painful. Now, nearly half of the cases seen in emergency rooms are sent to radiology departments for needles to be inserted under X-ray guidance, which exposes patients to radiation and increases the cost of care.
IntuiTap’s innovative handheld device offers low-cost imaging for detection of the underlying vertebrae, needle guidance for reliable needle positioning and insertion, and digital pressure-sensing. Using tactile sensing, essentially a form of computerized palpation, to visualize patients’ underlying bony landmarks, the device helps physicians access the spinal canal on the first attempt.
“I’d always wanted to channel my passions for math, physics, and art into solutions for the healthcare space,” says Moskowitz, who focused on biomechanics, neural engineering, and brain-computer interfaces during her years at Columbia Engineering. “What Columbia so emphatically demonstrated, and what I see now every day, is that medical device development is inherently reliant on cross-disciplinary insights and skills.”
Among her most influential mentors at Columbia Engineering were Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering Aaron Kyle, who got Moskowitz interested in medical devices, and Professors Paul Sajda, Qi Wang, and Nima Mesgarani, with whom she worked on direct neural interfaces.
Since incorporating last year, IntuiTap has started a round of seed funding, taken part in the TMCx and MedTech Innovator accelerator programs, been awarded space at Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s JLABS at Texas Medical Center, and become a member company at Chicago’s Insight Accelerator Labs and MATTER healthcare incubator.
Moskowitz currently works in Chicago overseeing the team’s research and development activities and product development partnership with the design innovation consultancy Insight Product Development. Suiting her wide-ranging interests, she has also taken the lead on establishing a Midwest clinical network and developing the company’s regulatory and reimbursement approach.
“It’s incredibly exciting to be involved in a venture from discovery of an unmet need through the development process and into a full-fledged entrepreneurial endeavor,” Moskowitz said. “The process has been a terrific learning experience—in networking and integrating across disciplines and skill sets, in cultivating leadership qualities, and in comprehending and managing every aspect of a technology’s lifecycle.”
—by Jesse Adams