Seeking global access to cervical cancer prevention

Student Shivani Sud
style=”float: left; width: 200px; height: 275px; ” title=”Shivani Sud, a senior majoring in
molecular biology, is working with engineering professor Wole Soboyejo on a simple system with off-the-shelf
parts to test for cervical cancer in the developing world. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)” />Women
in the developing world have a far greater chance of dying of cervical cancer than American women largely
because of the lack of screening programs that could detect precursors of the cancer when it’s
more treatable.

Princeton senior Shivani Sud, a molecular biology major working toward an engineering biology
certificate, has a plan to change that. Working with Wole”>”>Wole
Soboyejo, a professor of mechanical”>”>mechanical and
aerospace engineering, Sud is developing a system that uses an off-the-shelf digital camera and
freely available software produced by the National Institutes of Health to help clinic workers who have
modest training identify women who should receive further care.

With the Princeton system, a clinic worker takes a picture of a woman’s cervix during a
gynecological exam then swabs the cervix with vinegar or a similar solution and takes another picture.

The software performs a pixel-by-pixel comparison of the two pictures to identify cancerous or
precancerous tissue, which changes color when exposed to vinegar.

“Sometimes it’s not invention,” Sud said, “but innovation
that’s needed, taking things that we take for granted and putting them together in a novel way
that is a practical solution for another community.”

Sud tested the system in India last summer and planned to return during winter break to continue
refining it.

Printable sensors form basis for many tests

Two scientists in lab
style=”float: right; width: 200px; height: 275px;” title=”Christian Punckt (left) and Sibel
Korkut Ph.D. ’08 are scientists with Vorbeck Materials and visiting research collaborators at Princeton, who
are testing the properties of “functionalized graphene,” which holds promise for sensing important
biological molecules. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski) ” />Princeton engineers are collaborating with
Maryland-based” target=”_blank”>Vorbeck Materials
to develop printable sensors that greatly improve the performance of many basic medical tests.

The researchers in the laboratory of Ilhan”>”>Ilhan
Aksay, professor of chemical”>”>chemical and
biological engineering, are using “functionalized graphene” — a
singleatom- thick sheet of carbon with certain structural and chemical modifications — that could
form the basis for inexpensive, highly reliable tests for chemicals such as glucose and dopamine.

The technology is being commercialized by Vorbeck, which recently established a research lab in
Princeton near the University to continue the collaboration.