Johns Hopkins I-Corps Delivering Better Tech Through Customer Discovery


Dr. Dan Stoianovici

Dr. Dan Stoianovici is a professor of urology, mechanical engineering, neurosurgery and oncology at The Johns Hopkins University. He holds 15 issued patents, has 13 licensed patents, and in his 20-plus-year career, he has co-authored nearly 1,000 publications, many of which earned awards. He is an expert in the field of medical robotics and built his robotics laboratory at the Brady Urological Institute.

One could understand why he would question the return on investment he would receive from Johns Hopkins University’s I-Corps program. The four-week workshop is designed to help researchers better understand their target market for innovative new products and services by engaging directly with potential customers. Additionally, it provides funding of up to $2,880 to support customer discovery work or prototype development. Despite his initial skepticism, Stoianovici found the program time well spent.

“Once you work in the same field for many many years, you tend to believe you know what the requirements are and what customers would like to have,” Stoianovici says. “In general, it’s true because you work on and read about it every day.”

Stoianovici is currently developing a device that combines ultrasound and robotics not only to improve prostate biopsies but also to make them less expensive and more accessible. The current preferred method for conducting prostate biopsy involves ultrasound and MRI, but that is cost-prohibitive for many patients.


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