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Student Wins Award for IR Biopsy

Photonics Spectra
Nov 1997
Kathleen G. Tatterson

AKRON, Ohio -- A 20-year-old biology student who helped to develop a technique to noninvasively screen for breast cancer has won a B.F. Goodrich Collegiate Inventors award.

Robert Chan, Senior, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Robert Chan, a senior at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, received a $3000 prize from the company, which each year recognizes college students who are active in science and technology and who use creative invention for demonstrating their problem-solving skills.
The procedure, in which infrared light tracks a fluorescent dye that accumulates around tumors, would eliminate the need for the painful needle biopsies that determine the malignancy of lumps in breast tissue. Eighty percent of traditional biopsies yield negative results. The optical testing would be most beneficial for patients with denser breast tissue (i.e., younger patients); therefore, women could begin receiving regular tests at an earlier age.
Chan, who is working on the project with adviser Robert Levine at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, has written a business plan, which won the university's own 50K Entrepreneurship Competition. He is talking with companies interested in acquiring the technology.

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