This Turkish materials engineer is changing the way docs operate on breast cancer

47514bf83fb0f1b10b3bbee6ef67f6c0.png - Producing unique models for doctors to practice breast surgery, Özge Akbulut pushes the frontiers of material science in a challenge to VR-simulated surgeries I met Özge Akbulut by chance when we were leaving the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport a couple days ahead of the European startup conference Slush. We were part of a group conversation about what we were all doing there. That’s when she asked me a very unusual question.

“Do you want to see a breast?”

Reaching into her luggage, she pulled out one of her synthetic breasts. She and co-founder Barkın Eldem, MD, launched Surgitate, a materials startup that develops synthetic models to train prospective surgeons for breast surgery. In contrast to new virtual reality training tools, they provide a more realistic feeling of incisions, suturing, dissection, and reconstruction. Ultimately, they utilize advances in material science to quite literally reshape the way surgeons prepare for operations by building individualized breast molds for different patients according to specific features.