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On a Quest to Improve Quality of Life

As a young child, Julio Lobo loved solving problems. Fast forward to today, he’s been instrumental in helping build VelacurTM, a diagnostic solution for one of the world’s biggest problems: fatty liver disease.

Affecting 1 in 4 people around the world, fatty liver disease is the fastest growing and largest segment of chronic liver disease, and many are unaware of their disease. The liver, which is a critical organ for ridding the body of harmful substances, can be severely damaged with excess fat accumulation. Early detection is key in preventing and reversing progression of the disease, and improving one’s quality of life.

“In terms of your metabolic health, the liver is the most important organ,” explains Julio, Lead Software Engineer at Sonic Incytes Medical Corp. “Working alongside experts in the field of medical imaging, I’m grateful to have been able to help build a device that tells people how healthy they are on the inside. The earlier people know about their metabolic health, the better.”

Born and raised in Kenya, Julio moved to Canada in 2005 to pursue his dream of solving problems. He completed his Bachelor of Applied Science in Engineering Physics in 2010, and his Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2012 at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

Following his Masters, he worked as a research engineer in image guided medical intervention with leading medical imaging experts Dr. Tim Salcudean and Dr. Robert Rohling in the Robotics and Control Lab at UBC. The majority of his research has been in intra-operative and pre-operative medical imaging (elastography) to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in various organs, including the breast, prostate and liver.

“There are many different measurements that will give you an assessment of how healthy you are, but there is a gap in understanding your metabolic health,” states Julio. “While you can measure your temperature, weight and other biomarkers, assessing your liver will give you an actual measurement of your overall metabolic health.”

To that end, Julio played a key role in building VelacurTM, the first handheld 3D liver health assessment solution, into a robust system for clinical use.

“You can do many things to improve your quality of life, but not know how well you are doing,” adds Julio. “With Velacur, we give people that information, so they can change their life and health for the better.”

In 2017, Sonic Incytes Medical Corp. was formed to commercialize the technology, and Julio joined the team as Lead Software Engineer. Velacur received FDA clearance in late 2020.

During his career, Julio has authored or co-authored more than 30 papers, and is an inventor on three patents.

For the young ‘problem solver’ who grew up to become an engineer, building a solution to redefine patient care is a notable feather in his cap.