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Spotlight Story

Peymon Gazi
Goal: earlier diagnosis and better survival rates for breast cancer patients.

Peymon Gazi is a Ph.D.candidate in biomedical engineering; the main focus of his dissertation is on building dedicated breast CT scanners.After earning a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering, Gazi worked at the instrumentation department of a tire manufacturing company for two years as a systems control engineer.After getting a master’s in electrical engineering, he decided to switch to biomedical engineering to have a more tangible impact on the lives of people, especially cancer patients.Together with his colleagues at Breast Tomography Research Lab in the university’s Department of Radiology, he helped design and develop two dedicated breast CT (bCT) scanners and wrote a viewing software for radiologists and researchers to study the acquired CT images.

What’s important about your research—and where do you hope to take it?

Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the western world, second only to lung cancer. Breast cancer screening refers to testing otherwise-healthy women for breast cancer in an attempt to achieve an earlier diagnosis. The assumption is that early detection will improve outcomes. My research is focused on design and implementation of dedicated breast CT scanners, which have the potential to detect cancerous lesions that cannot be detected using other screening modalities, such as mammography. This would in turn lead to earlier diagnosis and an increase in patient survival rate.

What are you most passionate about in your work?

How often has a scientist or an engineer said, “If I could only make this particular material or combine these materials into a certain structure, I bet it would have these wonderful properties that could be used to make this cool device”? Although our generation is the first in human history to enjoy more than accidental success in this regard, this phenomenon is more likely to happen in the basic science fields than in technology. Technology, while not directly defined, is characterized as a partner or complement to science. So, to my way of thinking, a good entrepreneurial engineer should have a deep understanding of science. The goal of science is to understand the natural world, and the goal of technology is to make modifications in the world to meet human needs. They go hand in hand, and this is exactly how I think about any technological advancement. I often find that I have to define my professional identity by describing what I am not: I am neither just an applied scientist, nor am I a pure engineer—yet I use both toolboxes during every normal work day.

How will the Business Development Fellows program help you to change the world?

During the past few years I learned a lot about the medical imaging field and have a few good ideas. Although I am passionate about these ideas, I still need to learn a thing or two about excelling at what I do and ensuring that people want to use the final product. This is what I’d like to learn during the business development program.