How electrical circuits sparked fresh light on human biology

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GCB News

How electrical circuits sparked fresh light on human biology

A family tragedy, an unexpected discovery, and some daunting questions led to the founding of a new precision medicine center

“My mother wanted me to be a doctor and I was sure of it until high school when my uncle-in-law suddenly fell ill,” recalls Xiling Shen, the Hawkins Family Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University and Director of the Sherry and John Woo for Big Data and Precision Health Center.

“He kept coughing and was losing weight. He was treated for pneumonia for four months before he was officially diagnosed with colon-cancer lung metastasis. I remember asking myself back then, ‘How can medicine be so imprecise? How could doctors not know?’”

Having witnessed his uncle-in-law’s pain and suffering, Dr. Shen told his mother that he could never be a doctor witnessing such trauma on a daily basis. So he went on to become an electrical engineer, preferring to deal with machines that came with no emotional toll. He completed his PhD at Stanford University in 2005, at a time when his advisor had kidney cancer.

Read the article Artificial Intelligence in Medicine

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