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Meet Alexander Oraevsky of TomoWave Laboratories in Bellaire

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexander Oraevsky.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Alexander. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I founded TomoWave Laboratories in March 2010 and started operations in June 2010 with a start-up fund of $425k from a small European investment company, TomoWave is a hi-tech company developing proprietary medical imaging devices based on a combination of the most compelling properties of light and sound. By listening to the sound of light absorbed in biological tissue one can generate pictures of deep tissue structures, vasculature, and microvasculature as if our eyes could see under the skin. Our optoacoustic and laser ultrasonic imaging systems will enable better diagnostics, therapy, and surgery of cancer and vascular diseases. TomoWave provides significant benefit to its investors through the development of a pipeline of future products and applications financially sponsored by the US Government grants. In the first 7 years of the company, the initial investment has been leveraged X15 times with grants and contracts.

TomoWave has already developed its first commercial product, Laser Optoacoustic Imaging System, for preclinical research in laboratory animals. The launch of sales is planned for the late 2017 and the first systems are already on order, TomoWave is focused on its clinical prototype of the 3D Laser Optoacoustic Ultrasonic Imaging System Assembly for screening, diagnostic imaging and monitoring therapeutic interventions of breast cancer. In the pipeline of future technologies is also a medical laser ultrasound system, a universal laser optoacoustic ultrasonic imaging system capable of providing diagnostic imaging and guiding biopsy and surgery and monitor thermal therapy guided by optoacoustic temperature maps of the tissue volume being treated. The total potential worldwide market of TomoWave systems exceeds $10 Billion.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has been like a ride on a bumpy road during the first 7 years. It was not an easy job to assemble and maintain a team of highly skilled experts in such multidisciplinary technology as laser based medical ultrasound imaging. While grants from the National Institutes of Health provided support for research personnel, there was insufficient support for facilities, administration, and infrastructure and no support for commercialization and regulatory affairs. I am playing all executive roles, including Chief Executive, Financial, Technology, and Operations Officers, and still finding time for inventing new technological designs and maintaining the existing intellectual property.

It is not too difficult to improve an already working system, but it is a great challenge to create an absolutely new system based on never tested new principles. We as a team made a number of costly mistakes on the way, but I am happy that valuable lessons were learned. I believe we are now on the path to success.

TomoWave Laboratories – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Our company specializes in the development of medical devices based the principles of laser optoacoustic and ultrasonic imaging, sensing and monitoring. I and my two colleagues, Steve Jacques and Rinat Esenaliev, invested the basic principles and the general design of a system for biomedical optoacoustic imaging over 20 years ago. Initially, it was hard to convince others that our invention has real commercial value. The breakthrough in public acceptance of our technology came from the foundation of an international conference on biomedical optoacoustics under auspices of the society for optics and photonics, SPIE. Presently, this conference is the largest forum for our community of over 500 researchers worldwide. This community publishes over 300 scientific papers annually in highly cited peer reviewed journals. Optoacoustic (also called photoacoustic) imaging is the fastest growing biomedical imaging technology of the 21st century. More than a dozen of business companies have been created based on technological ideas of our community. I am proud that TomoWave plays a leading role in developing significant technological advances and creating viable clinical systems. What sets TomoWave apart from the other companies is the deep knowledge of the optoacoustic technology and capability to invent and innovate.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I can compare success and growth of a new technology with that of a human. When my baby, my technology, was born, no one could tell whether this baby will succeed in life. Today my baby already graduated from college. I would say my “baby” is successful in life when the laser optoacoustic imaging systems will be used by doctors in every major hospital worldwide. In other words, when our technology will be used by people for the benefit of their healthcare, then we can call it a success.

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TomoWave products:
1) LOIS-3D, laser optoacoustic imaging system for preclinical research in small lab animals and associated images of mouse organs and vessels
2) LOUISA-3D, laser optoacoustic ultrasonic imaging system assembly for diagnostic imaging of breast cancer and breast images obtained with this system

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