M. Jason Brooke
Changing the healthcare landscape with innovative diagnostic technology
M. Jason Brooke is the CEO of Vasoptic Medical Inc., a medical device startup based in Baltimore. Vasoptic is currently developing an array of vascular imaging technology, including a portable device designed to scan patients’ retinas. The tool aims to provide primary care doctors with a non-invasive, cost-efficient alternative to pupil dilation or contrast dyes, allowing a physician to easily detect early signs of blindness and other eye conditions associated with diabetes. The company’s collaborates with institutions such as Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland Medical Center. Vasoptic has received financial support from the Abell Foundation, as well as through programs such as the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, Tedco, and others.
Jason spoke with Janon Veach, director of development for KatzAbosch, for this interview.
JANON VEACH: What stage is the company in right now, from a financial perspective? Can you give us some insight into your strategy?
M. JASON BROOKE: We’re pre-revenue at this point. Sales, obviously, is something that’s very important and very much on my mind, but we’re not selling yet. Our deployment strategy is one where we intend to leverage our resources here in Maryland. The population of clinicians and patients in Maryland and the mid-Atlantic region is more than adequate for us to demonstrate the utility and effectiveness of our technology. Our goal is to deploy our retinal imager in as many primary care, optometry, and endocrinology clinics in the Maryland mid-Atlantic region as possible, and grow from there.
Q. Who are your entrepreneurial role models?
A. I’d have to say, quite frankly, as cliché as it may sound: my parents. I am lucky to have two male role models in my life, both of whom have their own businesses. While I was growing up, I had the opportunity to watch them interact with people, manage people, perform day-to-day operations, pay bills on a monthly basis, and really the nitty-gritty of running a business, I was lucky enough to get to witness that my whole life, and in fact participate in that, growing up in that environment. Most certainly my family would be my biggest entrepreneurial role models.
That said, I have a variety of different mentors in different aspects of what we do as a company and what I do personally and professionally, and can say, without a doubt that my success, to whatever extent I have been successful, is truly a result of their mentorship and their guidance and my ability to learn from them as I’ve grown as an individual.
Q. Where is Vasoptic Medical in five years?
A. We hope to be on the market with our retinal imager for diabetic retinopathy, early detection of diabetic retinopathy. We hope that the retinal imager can be used at that time for other clinical conditions, because looking at the blood flow of the retinal microvasculature can be informative for a number of both ophthalmic diseases as well as systemic diseases. On the ophthalmic side, diabetic retinopathy is an obvious one; other conditions like glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration have potential biomarkers by looking at the flow changes that are occurring in the eye. Similarly, there is literature to support looking at blood flow in the eye for stroke detection, Alzheimer’s detection, sleep apnea, and hypertension. Once we’ve got the first product on the market, we hope to be able to use that retinal imaging device for a number of other diagnostic purposes. But similarly, our technology is a vascular imaging technology. It can be built in a number of different ways and deployed for other purposes beyond retinal imaging. We have these kind of skunkworks products that are percolating now, beyond the retinal imaging space, that would allow us to build our company to where we have a portfolio of products based on our vascular imaging technology. In five years, we hope to be well on our way on the retinal imaging side in the market, but also developing these other opportunities with our vascular imaging technology.
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