Alumnus pursues better health outcomes through medical technology

Yo Seol, one of the first graduating members of the master’s program at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago, is passionate about bettering human life through improving medical technology.

Although Seol has long been keen on pursuing a career in engineering, it was his medical diagnosis that steered him into biotechnology.

While studying as an undergraduate and graduate student, Seol was diagnosed with and treated for cancer. He recalls his experience not just dealing with surgery but struggling with the resulting health issues from it, which he says could have been improved with precision (or personalized) medicine and technology.

“It’s not about just being diagnosed and getting the right surgery to remove a tumor,” Seol said about precision medicine, “it’s also the aftercare where patients could struggle because their bodies are going through a huge anomaly. Not all medical devices or medicine fits every person, so I wanted to study how we can focus on each patient, which we call precision medicine.”

After graduating from the Georgia Institute of Technology and working in an energy and cardiac-specific department of a biomedical company, Seol decided to join the master’s program at Pritzker Molecular Engineering. He joined the program’s polymer science and engineering track with some immunoengineering courses as electives.

“I was trying to connect myself to the biomedical field,” Seol said, “and I had a great introduction through my classes about sensors, diagnostics, nanomedicine, even soft matter laboratories, which were led by mentors, such as Dr. Mustafa Guler, who are experts in their fields.”

After graduating, Seol worked for Tesla before being employed by Medtronic, one of the world’s largest biomedical and biotechnology companies, where he became a senior engineer in a short time. There, he focuses on work closely aligned with what he studied at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering.

“The school tackles not just the fundamentals of the science, but also the translational science,” Seol said, “where it’s involved in hospital clinics or pharmaceutical research. So that’s how PME was a huge help.”

Seol acknowledges that he initially followed a conventional path in his career and education. However, he now appreciates the diverse engineering roles he has explored. “I hope that students entering the PME master’s program recognize the opportunities it offers for their future careers,” Seol said. “So I’d say apply and embark on your new adventure with self-defined standards!”

—Learn more about the Master of Engineering Degree at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at UChicago here.