resident & alumni news

Making a Difference in 2018

December 11, 2018  |  New York Times

Mihir Shah

FIGHTS BREAST CANCER

“There are lots of gizmos out there. Innovation is only one aspect.”

CreditUE Life Sciences

 

Few women around the world can get a mammogram. They are far from a clinic, or lack the money, or just don’t know about breast cancer. But now there’s another kind of breast exam that could reach women that mammograms don’t.

 

The iBreastExam machine fits in your hand, runs on batteries, costs as little as a dollar per scan, is painless, uses no radiation and is simple enough that community health workers can do breast exams.

 

Mihir Shah, who is from Mumbai, India, studied computer engineering at Drexel University in Philadelphia. With colleagues, he formed a company in January 2009 to make a machine that could democratize the breast exam. The first attempt was too big and too expensive. Then they used a Drexel-developed sensor to create iBreastExam.

 

That was, however, far less than half the battle — and it’s the second part that trips up most entrepreneurs, especially those making products for poor countries. “There are so many great technologies out there,” said Matthew Campisi, a co-founder. “That doesn’t make them a successful product.”

 

In 2016 they began testing iBreastExam in India with some health organizations, and at a private hospital in Bengaluru. Those tests allowed them to collect data on the machine’s accuracy and sensitivity (see hereand here) and learn useful lessons about how to proceed.

 

So far, iBreastExam has been cleared by regulatory bodies in 10 countries. One is the United States. Mr. Shah said that 70 percent of uninsured women don’t get routine mammograms. “We’re not saying it’s a replacement for a mammogram,” he said. “We’re saying there are areas where it can help.”