Ziv Yekutieli ’02, M.S.’07 had been working in the high-tech industry for 20 years when he presented to a group of neurologists what he thought was an exciting idea: a chip that could be implanted in patients’ brains to monitor health and disease. But the doctors were not interested.
“One of the neurologists told me what they actually need is a better means to use the existing drugs and medical devices,” Yekutieli told Israeli technology news site, CTech. Probing a bit more, Yekutieli also learned that the biggest challenge the doctors faced was getting a comprehensive picture of their patient’s health. “They know very little about the patients they’re treating because the entire evaluation is based upon short and infrequent clinical visits,” he said.
So pivoting from the chip idea, Yekutieli started developing digital technology that could run the same tests remotely that doctors were already using in their clinics. Then in 2016, he teamed up with fellow Technion alum Dima Gershman ’06, M.S. ’12 to co-found Mon4t, also called Montfort Brain Monitor. The Israeli and New York City-based medical company provides remote and in-person neurological evaluation using AI and smartphone technology to help physicians monitor health and detect early onset of conditions such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s and even long Covid.
A simple smartphone link connects a physician with his patient. The doctor then orders up digital tests, typically measuring motor, cognitive, and affective functioning, which are specific to his patient. Mon4t analyzes the data with proprietary AI technology and sends the results back to the physician.
To ensure acceptance from the medical community, Yekutieli and Gershman, the company CEO and CTO respectively, stuck to the tried-and-true tests that doctors know and trust rather than invent something new. As a result, their technology has been cleared by the FDA and is experiencing a growing demand, mainly in the US, from hospitals, medical device companies, the pharma industry and telehealth organizations.
Ever since he was a kid, Yekutieli tinkered with electronics and knew he wanted to be an engineer. Then in high school, a second area of interest grabbed his attention — the brain. His math teacher suffered from ALS and watching him decline was heart-wrenching.
After serving in the Israeli Army, Yekutieli earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Technion in electrical engineering, followed by a Ph.D. in brain science from Tel Aviv University. He spent 11 years working at Intel Corp. before striking out on his own.
Yekutieli believes that very important research often remains theoretical, missing out on the opportunity to impact peoples’ lives. So he sought to apply his knowledge to the health tech arena. “Academics was a hobby, until I decided that that’s what I want to do also for a business. This was the starting point of Mon4t.”
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