Photo of Catalina Isaza

Biotechnology & medicine

Catalina Isaza

Developing customized bone implants that restore patients' function and esthetics.

Year Honored


Latin America

Hails From

Head injuries are a major cause of death worldwide, especially among young people and in low-income countries, and survivors can suffer permanent sequelae that affect their bones and physical appearance. As with people born with craniofacial anomalies, these deformities of the face and head can cause a deterioration in the quality of life and mental health of those who suffer from them.

Since she was a child, young Colombian Catalina Isaza (31 years old) had wanted to be a doctor, although she finally chose to study product design engineering at EAFIT University in Medellín. She made that decision with the intention of creating medical devices to improve people's quality of life and in her academic career she discovered biomaterials and the potential positive impact of their application in the field of health. To help people with cranial and maxillofacial defects, she created Innmetec, a start-up that designs bone implants with a material very similar to bone. For this breakthrough, Isaza has been chosen by MIT Technology Review in Spanish as one of the Innovators under 35 Latin America 2023.

Innmetec uses a material designed by Isaza that does not need to be replaced in the future. This product is a mixture of the mineral hydroxyapatite, which mainly forms our bones, and an inert polymer to which porosity is added so that it integrates with the bone. The current alternatives on the market based on metals, such as titanium, have problems of heating or cooling and pain, explains the innovator. "We make customized implant surgical plans with an exclusive design for trauma or tumors to restore functionality and also esthetics," the young woman details. "We increase the well-being of patients who require a bone solution through digital surgical planning and customized bone implants that reduce times, risks, and costs during surgeries. The bone that integrates with the implant remodels as the child grows and avoids having to be replaced over time."

After numerous successful cases over the years in Colombia, where her customized implants improve physical, mental, and emotional recovery in patients who needed a bone replacement, Isaza aspires to expand her creation to more countries in Latin America, where the rate of cranioencephalic trauma exceeds the world average. Expanding and democratizing this new and more effective method for treating craniomaxillofacial injuries, she hopes, will contribute to saving lives and reducing the discomfort of numerous patients in the region.