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Optical Technologies Are Poised to Guide Cancer Surgery in Low- to Middle-Income Regions

Conference will begin: Tuesday, October 25, 2022
Presented by: Jenna Mueller, University of Maryland

A majority of noncommunicable diseases — including almost all types of cancer — are treated with some sort of surgery. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 4.8 billion people around the world currently lack access to safe, timely, and affordable surgical care and anesthesia. The vast majority of these people reside in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where over 70% of the global cancer-related deaths now occur. Addressing the growing cancer burden may require a new vision — one that leverages low-cost, portable, electricity-independent, and accessible biomedical technologies to improve cancer management in LMICs.

Technologies that leverage biomedical optics are poised to meet this need because they can capture relevant morphological and physiological information that can be used to diagnose and guide cancer excisions, and they can be fast, low-cost, noninvasive, and nondestructive to tissue, making them potentially well suited for LMICs. Mueller describes key design considerations for biomedical technologies for use in LMICs and provides an example of how design considerations were implemented in the development of a low-cost laparoscope specially designed for LMIC environments.


About the presenter
Jenna MuellerJenna Mueller, Ph.D., is assistant professor in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering at the University of Maryland and in the Department of OB-GYN and Reproductive Science at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She is also a member of the Program in Oncology at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center (UMGCCC). Mueller’s interdisciplinary training combines optical imaging, image processing, ablative therapies, and human-centered design to develop biomedical devices to solve challenges in global health. She received her bachelor’s degree in bioengineering, with a minor in global health technologies, from Rice University, and received both a master’s degree and a doctorate in biomedical engineering at Duke University for her work developing optical systems and automated algorithms to improve the accuracy of cancer excision during surgery.

Prior to joining the University of Maryland, Mueller was a postdoctoral associate at Duke University, where she worked with a multidisciplinary team to develop the Pocket Colposcope, a low-cost, portable device to screen women for cervical pre-cancer at the primary care setting and conducted studies to demonstrate its impact in 1000 women in eight countries. She is also spearheading a new program to develop low-cost therapeutics for cervical pre-cancer, and she received an NIH Pathway to Independence (K99/R00) Award from the National Cancer Institute to do large-animal trials before moving to patient studies. Mueller’s lab is focused on developing translational low-cost diagnostic and therapeutic technologies to improve the management of cervical cancer and other cancers in the United States and in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).







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