Apr 25, 2017 | By Julia

Apple has hired Steven Keating, the MIT student who 3D printed his own brain tumor and shared it with the world. Back in 2015, Keating made headlines with his innovative, data-centric approach to studying, and ultimately beating, his cancer.

After doctors discovered a large cancerous tumor in Keating’s brain, the 26-year-old doctoral student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) started collecting data. As a member of the Mediated Matter Group at MIT’s famed Media Lab, Keating’s experience in mechanical engineering and synthetic biology led him to search deeper into the information available to him. Taped surgeries, sequenced genomes, and raw data from brain scans all played a central role in Keating’s pilgrimage. Ultimately, the researcher gathered around 75 gigabytes of information on his condition, which he leveraged to create digital and 3D printed models of his tumor, brain, and surgically-repaired skull. By actively sharing his work with health researchers in the years that followed, Keating set a new precedent for making health data open-source.

Needless to say, the MIT grad’s journey made waves around the world, garnering the attention of US President Barack Obama, and more recently, Apple. Last Friday, Keating addressed the Sage Bionetworks’ annual conference Assembly in Seattle as an Apple employee. Speaking on the topic of patients’ challenges in aggregating their own medical data, Keating shared his personal experiences. He decided to go to medical school in part, he said, in order to study his own tissue.

Although Keating’s official role at Apple remains undisclosed for the moment, all clues point towards the corporation’s growing interest in medical research. The non-profit research organization Sage Bionetworks, for instance, has proved to be a major proponent in Apple’s ResearchKit software, a package designed to enable mobile-based studies for medical researchers.

Apple’s foray into the medical research industry was recently bolstered by its acquisition of Gliimpse, a personal health data startup designed to help users aggregate their own medical information. Similarly, sources report that a team of Apple biomedical engineers has begun developing sensors for non-invasive tracking of blood sugar levels for treating diabetes, an initiative that, if successful, would further incentivize Apple Watch purchases.

And with headline-grabbers like Keating on the team, Apple is clearly ramping up its stakes in the rapidly growing fields of health data management and biomedical technology. It’s safe to say that some big projects are likely in the works; stay tuned for more developments as they unfold.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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