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Nazgol Tavabi: Improving the Care of Joint Disorders through AI

Nazgol Tavabi: Improving the Care of Joint Disorders through AI

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Hi, gang! Spiffy here, back with the scoop on the changemaking leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Nazgol Tavabi, the co-founder and CEO of BonePixel. Let’s learn what’s happening there and how Nazgol is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Hi, Nazgol! Thanks a bunch for chatting with me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through BonePixel?

Nazgol: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Our mission is to improve the care of joint disorders with the help of big data and AI. The problem is that the current tools for diagnosis and treatment planning of joint disorders do not provide sufficient and clear insight into patients’ joint abnormalities. This requires the orthopedic care team to rely on their experience, which can become problematic for patients with rare and complex joint disorders or those without access to experienced specialists. We are here to change that!

Spiffy: That is very interesting! What motivates you to tackle this challenge?

Nazgol: Being able to improve the patients’ quality of life is the most rewarding part of our work. Our venture started as a research project in Boston Children’s Hospital. Watching our product actually being used in clinics, improving the care of joint disorders, and impacting patient’s lives has been an amazing highlight of this journey. Also, we have a great team. I personally get so much inspiration from my co-founders, who work tirelessly to push our venture forward. 

Spiffy: Amazing! How would you describe the impact of your work?

Nazgol: Our product is designed to help individuals with joint disorders. It builds 3D models from patients’ medical images and extracts detailed information from them that physicians do not have access to otherwise. It also compares patients’ data to previous cases, i.e., historical data, to give recommendations for their treatment. In a way, it simulates recommendations from an experienced surgeon who has seen thousands of cases with different abnormalities. This additional information helps improve patients’ treatment outcomes.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience or community?

Nazgol: We recently won a 25K prize from the Harvard Presidential Innovation Challenge (PIC) which is very exciting. This competition is between all the startups in the Harvard ecosystem. It is an honor to be recognized out of more than 300 different, amazing startups, and it also highlights the importance of our mission. 

Spiffy: Congratulations on that award and distinction! Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Nazgol: I want to thank you for letting us be part of your beautiful mission of introducing entrepreneurship to young adults. We need visionaries and trailblazers to build a better future, and this requires a different way of thinking that is built from early stages of life. 

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Nazgol—it’s been an honor!

Nazgol Tavabi is part of BonePixel’s founding team, along with Mohammadreza and Ata. She got her PhD in computer science from USC with a focus on machine learning and data science. She then joined Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School as a postdoctoral fellow in the orthopedic department, where BonePixel was born. (Nominated by Alex Parks of Harvard Innovation Labs. First published on the Ladderworks website on July 6, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.