Developer of cancer goggles hopes to inspire children in the developing world

Robert J. Boston Samuel Achilefu PhDWashington People/Jim Goodwin
Samuel Achilefu, PhD, the Michel M. Ter-Pogossian Professor of Radiology, oversees a variety of cancer-fighting projects. They include development of goggles that help surgeons see and remove cancer and a therapy that uses a combination of light and a photosensitizing drug to kill malignant cells. Samuel Achilefu PhD Washington People Jim Goodwin

They look like futuristic eyewear. But the goggles developed by Samuel Achilefu, PhD, and his team at WashU have a much greater purpose: They help surgeons see and remove cancer.

When dye is injected into a patient’s tumor, cancerous cells glow when viewed with the goggles and infrared light. The technology, which awaits further testing, has been used successfully on patients to ensure no stray tumor cells remain after surgery.

I want to play a role in eradicating cancer or making it a manageable disease. Washington University is a great place for idea incubation and collaboration, opening doors to applying known concepts to new areas of research.

Looking back at my childhood, I remember seeing some exceptionally smart kids in the village school I attended during the Nigerian civil war. But they never had the opportunity to move forward. Can you imagine what the world would look like if they had the opportunity to fulfill their dreams? This thought has haunted me through my adult life. My dad sponsored many students when he was alive. I would like to do the same for college students, but in a different way. I envision creating an institute for global innovation in education and training, with talent searches for smart kids in low-resource areas of the world playing a central role. Depending on resources, a specified number of these kids will be identified yearly for comprehensive training and support through college. Regional centers will allow us to work directly with the locals. I also would like to inspire young ones to attain greater heights. I am sure these events will keep me busy through life!

Read the full story in the School of Medicine News Hub: Washington People: Samuel Achilefu