Making MRIs accessible to all

Efrain Torres

Efraín Torres found his way to the University of Minnesota driven by a strong desire to address community issues. Growing up in Chicago's South Side, Torres is a first-generation high school and college graduate and recently earned his PhD at the U of M in biomedical engineering.

Torres chose the University of Minnesota because of its expertise in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) development. He is focused on pursuing engineering research that can make a difference, which is why his PhD work was focused on making MRI technology more affordable and thus more accessible to all—an area he first grew passionate about during his undergraduate studies at Marquette University.

Alongside his research on MRI technology, Torres has engaged with the U of M’s Tech Comm office to protect his IP and explore commercialization opportunities. That helped him to launch a startup company, Adialante, which offers affordable, silent, and compact MRI systems. 

“If you want to do a startup, your research has to have a clear impact on the lives of people. When it comes to research, you have to be mindful of that,” says Torres. “[And] when it comes to technology commercialization, you have to get your things properly protected for IP [intellectual property].” 

Tech Comm also helped connect him with entrepreneurship mentors through the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship, which awarded him the Student Entrepreneur of the Year award last May.

Torres and his team participated in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps), and were awarded funding from America’s Seed Fund powered by the NSF. He and his team are in the midst of securing financing to further develop their affordable MRI technology.

Torres acknowledges the challenges he faced as a minority in STEM and as an aspiring entrepreneur. However, he believes that embracing these obstacles and using his unique experiences has prepared him for the startup journey. 

He advises other aspiring entrepreneurs to go outside their comfort zone. 

“Definitely get involved in the variety of Tech Comm’s networking and/or workshops, especially the Holmes Center of Entrepreneurship,” says Torres. “Doing these things can be inherently uncomfortable, but they are not something people get to skip over if they want to be an entrepreneur."

Torres's journey at the University of Minnesota showcases his commitment to community-driven innovation and his determination to overcome challenges. Through the support of Tech Comm and his own experiences as a minority entrepreneur, he is paving the way for future researchers interested in entrepreneurship. 

And with his focus on making MRI technology more affordable and accessible, Torres' work holds promise for healthcare and underserved communities.