Aydogan Ozcan: Most HIV patients today are either in India or Africa, and they don’t have the resources to really take blood, send it to a central lab, get the counts back.
Aydogan Ozcan is head of the Bio- and Nano-photonics Laboratory at UCLA. He’s developing a device to detect infectious diseases in people in the most impoverished parts of the world, using a cellphone.
Aydogan Ozcan: If you look at the statistics of how cellphones are being used in the world, it’s an amazing story to find that more than 20% of the population in Africa, in India, in Brazil – they still carry cellphones.
Dr. Ozcan, who’s an optics expert, modified a standard cellphone with a camera sensor to diagnose malaria and monitor HIV-infected patients. He added a special blue light, and a place for a tiny glass slide that holds a blood sample.
Aydogan Ozcan: We detect the shadow of cells. That is kind of like the fingerprint of the cell – if it’s infected, it’s going to yield a different shadow.
Ozcan’s modified phone photographs these shadows, then sends the images to a database. Within 5 minutes, the database sends the phone a text with the results of the analysis. Dr. Ozcan believes this technology could be especially helpful to people in poor, remote villages.
Aydogan Ozcan: It’s a technology that will provide bread and butter for people who don’t have anything.
Our thanks to Aydogan Ozcan.
Aydogan Ozcan is head of the Bio-and Nano-photonics Laboratory at UCLA.
Beth Lebwohl researches, writes and helps produce science content in audio and video formats for EarthSky. She is one of the authors on EarthSky.org, a script-writer for our podcasts, and helps host our English science podcasts in 90-second, 8-minute and 22-minute formats. Beth came to EarthSky in 2006 from the American Museum of Natural History's Department of Astrophysics, where she was surrounded by some of the greatest telescope-building, equation-wielding, code-writing physicists of our time. And they made her think . . . this science thing . . . it's pretty cool.