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Natalie Artzi: Utilizing Complex Materials to Improve Post-Surgical Outcomes

Natalie Artzi: Utilizing Complex Materials to Improve Post-Surgical Outcomes

Hi! It’s me, Spiffy the interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with the latest scoop on entrepreneurs making a difference in healthcare for all of us around the world! Today’s rockstar is Natalie Artzi, co-founder of BioDevek. Are you ready to be inspired?

Spiffy: Welcome Natalie! Can you tell me about the challenges you’re addressing through BioDevek? 

Natalie: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Our mission is to design the next generation of biomaterial-based solutions to advance human health. We developed adhesive biomaterials that can be applied on top of sutures following internal surgeries to prevent leakage of body fluids from the suture line, such as blood following vascular surgeries, gut-content following gastrointestinal surgeries, and air following lung surgery. Our materials are designed to ‘sense’ the properties of the tissue they will be applied to, and provide the most optimal adhesion for each case.

Spiffy: Whoa, that sounds amazing! What exactly motivated you to focus your work on creating these solutions?

Natalie: I was always passionate about understanding how complex materials are being formed in nature, with diverse properties and functions. As an engineer, I study how one can design materials with distinct properties by controlling their chemistry, architecture, and texture on multiple scales—nano, micro, and macro-scale. I am extremely motivated in using these materials inside our bodies to help deliver drugs to the right organ and the right cell at the right time. Improving human health is my ultimate goal.

Spiffy: How would you say that you are working to make a more equitable world?

Natalie: Our organization is looking to hire scientists from diverse backgrounds and expertise, and provide training opportunities to young entrepreneurs. Our medical solutions are geared towards patients from all over the world. 

Spiffy: Can you tell me about a recent milestone that BioDevek has achieved? What kind of impact do you hope to have?

Natalie: We recently designed materials that can prevent bleeding and complications associated with polyp resection in the colon. Polyps—small tissue growths—may sometimes form, and if not removed in time can become cancerous. However, bleeding may occur following their removal. Our material was tested in pigs and was demonstrated to prevent bleeding and help with the overall healing of the wound following polyp resection. We hope to be able to treat patients using our technology.

Spiffy: One last question for you, Natalie. Have you ever faced failure? What did you learn?

Natalie: Well, Spiffy, when we design new materials to be used in the human body, sometimes our hypothesis is completely wrong and the experiments fail miserably. We have to understand why it did not work and be flexible enough in our minds to be able to form a new hypothesis that we can test. This process may take time—and it teaches us to be patient, resilient, and hard-working in order to succeed.

Spiffy: Those are lessons we all need to learn! Thanks so much for taking the time to tell me about your amazing work, Natalie. It’s been an honor!


Natalie Artzi is the co-founder of BioDevek and an Assistant Professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and a Principal Research Scientist at MIT. Her laboratory is designing biomaterials for diagnosis and therapy aiming to treat a range of diseases, including cancer, autoimmune diseases, and injuries following trauma. (Nominated by Harvard Innovation Labs)

© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s stories of founders building a more equitable world at www.ladderworks.co/blogs/spiffys-blog