Work done in the lab of Dr John HO at National University of Singapore’s Wireless Bioelectronics Lab.
Dr Viveka has been recognised as one of the top100 Women in Technology in Singapore in 2021. As an Innovator and Technopreneur, she developed and commercialised patient-centric DeepTech medical devices with emphasis on FemTech. She focuses holistically on the R&D, clinical & regulatory pathways and commercialisation of MedTech.
Dr Viveka is the first and corresponding author of the bioelectronic, wireless sensing sutures called WiSe sutures, which was also published in the highly prestigious and high impact factor journal, Nature Biomedical Engineering (nBME). Her work on WiSe sutures made it to the cover of October 2021 nBME issue. She was also featured on the prestigious Nature news and views.
Currently, she is the Technology Development and Commercialisation Lead for Translational Biophotonics Lab in the Institute of Bioengineering and Bioimaging (IBB) at A*STAR. She spearheads the commercialisation of biophotonic technologies with FemTech use-cases and plans to eventually spin out one of the techs to become a DeepTech founder. She is also the co-Lead for A*STAR’s Diversity Working Group and the Diversity Champion of her Research Institute, IBB.
Dr Viveka believes in empowering people through education and mentorship. She is a mentor to startups, venture creation programmes and aspiring talents. She founded The Edify Project, a startup to empower more talents and organisations through innovative mentorship strategies.
On the lighter side, she is a fitness freak, a globetrotter, a bookworm,an equestrian and a light political observer. One can connect with Dr Viveka via LinkedIn,coffee, tea, or much easier, a smile.
Lead, Technology Development and Commercialization, Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*STAR)
How would you explain your research outcomes to the non-scientific community?
We have developed a wireless sensing (WiSe) platform technology that monitors surgical site complications that may take place in the body after surgery. This device helps detect post-operative complications and communicate the patient’s condition in a real-time manner to the clinicians and caregivers to treat the patient promptly.
How do these findings contribute to your research area?
I’m a firm believer in translational research. I believe that clinically relevant translation is the key to mental and physical wellbeing of humanity. WiSe sutures are perfect example of translational research, where we are trying to address an unmet clinical need with a huge market potential.
“I was immersively involved in the translation of WiSe sutures, making me a ‘WiSer’ innovator and technopreneur.“
What was the exciting moment during your research?
There are two exciting and enlightening moments in my WiSe journey. As I have mentioned in my ‘behind the paper blog’ for Nature.
1) There are some perks to being one of the first postdocs in a newly formed lab, just like being an early employee in any startup — one gets to brainstorm ideas and set the culture of the lab. When I joined Dr. John Ho’s NUS Wireless Bioelectronics Lab, it was (and still is) a young and dynamic lab that was open and hungry for fresh ideas and perspectives. For a high energy person like me, the environment was an abode of possibilities.
For the first three months, I found myself generating one idea per week, thinking of ways to marry my materials science expertise to my lab’s wireless capabilities. During the presentation, John chose the word ‘smart sutures’ nestled in the corner of one of the slides. The concept of smart sutures was not even the focus of my presentation that day.
However, the words unexpectedly set the path for the next four years. We went on to turn that spark into a proof-of- concept for a technology that may change the way post-operative complications are detected and treated.We named this technology WiSe (wireless sensing) sutures,which is synonymous with “smart”and reflects the capabilities of these sutures.
2) As we developed the concept into technology, we have constantly been looking for ways to turn it into a clinical reality. I received a call from a medical device distributor in North America one night. He told me that they have been looking forward to the day WiSe can turn into reality because technology like WiSe could have saved his father, who had died of anastomotic leakage after colorectal surgery. His words have made me realised that my work was more than just a laboratory research project; patients today might be waiting for a similar technology that can help to prevent complications after surgery.
What do you hope to do next?
I was immersively involved in the translation of WiSe sutures, making me a ‘WiSer’ innovator and technopreneur. As the lead of the Technology Development and Commercialization in Institute of Bioengineering and Bioimaging, A*STAR, I spearheaded the translation of biophotonic technologies with FemTech use-cases. I hope I can expand my research and eventually become a scientist who also indulges in DeepTech expertise.
Where do you seek scientific inspiration from?
I’m a believer in translational research, with a focus on MedTech and FemTech use cases. My parents are doctors, and that probably might be my inspiration to pursue clinically relevant translational research. I like to emphasize FemTech use cases because, as a woman, I believe in empowering women through my innovations.
How do you intend to help Indian science improve?
I am also running The Edify Project, which allows me to mentor Indian students who would like to pursue their careers in STEM through these initiatives. My programmes have a special focus on bringing more Indian girls, women, early career women, women who had a break after marriage or pregnancy to pursue STEM and other fields and become impact makers in their chosen fields. their chosen fields.
1. Kalidasan, V., Yang, X., Xiong, Z. et al. Wirelessly operated bioelectronic sutures for the monitoring of deep surgical wounds. Nat Biomed Eng 5, 1217–1227 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41551-021-00802-0
2. Behind the paper blog — https://go.nature.com/30yLNmH
Edited by: Anjali Mahilkar