Student Spotlight: Nicholas Schott
PhD candidate Nicholas Schott has always been fascinated by biomedical innovation and how it can be used to advance healthcare. While he has found the resources available at the University of Michigan invaluable to his research, Nick has also gained business and innovation insights through entrepreneurship.
Entering the fifth year of the Biomedical Engineering Doctoral program, Nick’s research focuses on the development of a cell-based biomaterial strategy for musculoskeletal tissue regeneration. He investigates the relationships between adult stem cells and endothelial cells in the context of vascular bone tissue engineering.
“I have always been fascinated by biomedical innovation and how it can be used to advance healthcare,” Nick said.
During his undergraduate education he was introduced to the field of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering particularly drew his interest.
“I wanted to be part of creating the next generation of these biological based med tech devices,” Nick said. “I thought the tissue engineering approach was really cool. That is how I landed in this particular niche.”
Once he got a firm grasp on how much of an impact this type of research can actually have on someone’s life, it inspired Nick to dedicate his career to pushing these types of innovations into the market.
To accomplish this Nick realized it would take a degree of business knowledge to understand how medical devices are commercialized, to that end he decided to supplement the scientific training of his Phd program with the business experience through the Graduate Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
“I thought it would provide great opportunities to develop skill sets in business, leadership, and innovation that will all be really important areas to be successful in the field of med tech and the commercialization of biomedical devices,” he said.
Nick has taken several courses through the certification program, but the real standout to him is Project Management and Consulting. The course gives students the opportunity to apply its content toward real world applications where they act as a consultant for an actual company.
“I was lucky enough to work for a biomedical company,” Nick said. “I consulted with a company that was a spinout of the U-M Pediatric Device Consortium (M-PED).”
M-PED’s main goal is to take innovative ideas and turn them into near-market pediatric devices for commercialization. It maintains a creative environment and supports team members from engineering, business and medical backgrounds to ensure its goals are met.
The particular group Nick consulted for were trying to create a non-invasive Co2 monitoring device to assess respiratory function of patients who are weaning off of home mechanical ventilators.
“There are a lot of real world applications to that work,” he said. “It was a super cool project where I didn’t work on creating the device per se, but I had more of a hands-on approach to the value this can provide the healthcare space and what measures we actually have to go through to get this into the clinic.”
Nick, along with the project team, were ultimately able to create a commercialization strategy and business model for the device, which he described as an eye opening experience. This wasn’t Nick’s only experience with an innovative team, he has also acted as a team leader through the co-curricular club Sling Health to create a device which non-invasively removes blood clots from central venous catheters.
Sling Health is a student-run biotech accelerator program where students from a variety of schools and colleges create a team to address unmet clinical needs. The teams find that need through clinical showing and brainstorming ideas of how to address it through the involvement of a novel medical device. Teams go through testing, the prototyping stage, and then create a commercialization game plan.
“I was able to use a lot of the leadership skills I learned through the CFE and certificate program and leveraged a lot of that insight toward actually creating a device and leading a team through the medical device development lifecycle,” Nick said.
He finds all of this hands-on research extremely gratifying as it allows him to apply the theories of what he learns in his coursework to something that is going to make an impact on the world.
As for where Nick sees himself after graduation, he would like to have a project manager role where he could flex all of his interests and skills in project management and team leadership to guide the overall commercialization and development of medical devices.
“I could absolutely see myself founding my own startup,” he said. “That’s a dream I have always had of having my own company and making medical devices that positively impact people’s lives.”