Big Ideas

Ralph Weissleder, M.D., Ph.D.

With technology on the rise, we don’t need to tell you that smartphones are changing the future. But did you know they are changing the future of medicine?

Most clinical physicians agree that early detection of cancer cells is the key to earlier treatments. Earlier treatments often means better options and outlooks. With current technology, we often expect and receive instant results or feedback. Now, one V Foundation funded scientist is putting those expectations to the test. His results could revolutionize early detection and action for some breast cancer patients.

Ralph Weissleder, M.D., Ph.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, has received funding from the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund. The fund was created in memory of ESPN personality and long-time V Foundation friend and supporter Stuart Scott. It funds either minority researchers or research that explores the biology behind why some cancers are more likely to occur, more aggressive or harder to treat in some minority populations.

Dr. Weissleder’s research is developing a low-cost imaging module, mountable on smartphones, that will use holography to detect and profile tumors using scant clinical samples. The device, named D3, has shown excellent diagnostic accuracy in pilot testing. This next generation platform in cancer diagnostics can tackle a key unmet need – early breast cancer detection in underdeveloped areas of the world, where doctors are working with highly inadequate resources. It will allow judicious and personalized treatment to patients in great need.

The next time you pull out your smartphone, imagine it as a tool to save lives. Thanks in part to our funding of Dr. Weissleder, it is no longer just a technological dream. It has become reality and a new life-saving method to detect cancer earlier.