Associate Professor of Bioengineering Dan Fletcher has been awarded $100,000 by Microsoft Research to turn the camera of a cell phone into a clinical-quality light microscope that can transmit images of patient samples remotely for evaluation by specialists. Microsoft Research is supporting academics from 10 universities around the world in their research of innovative ways to advance healthcare services and solutions, as well as mitigate the growing healthcare concerns.
Effective healthcare requires reliable patient data and a trained physician to interpret the data and guide treatment. In many developing countries, bringing those two components together – reliable data and trained physicians – is a tremendous challenge. Healthcare personnel are frequently under-trained and under-equipped, often facing excessive patient loads with minimal equipment. Light microscopy is one of the most important clinical tools for routine examinations. However, high-quality light microscopes commonly available in the developed world are rarer than physicians in some developing countries. We are working to turn the camera of a cell phone into a clinical-quality light microscope that can transmit images of patient samples remotely for evaluation by specialists. Such a cell phone microscope – which we call the CellScope – will address both healthcare data collection and diagnosis problems in developing countries by linking the two through wireless communication.