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Taking Great Ideas From the Lab To the Fab

Unknown Lamer posted 4 days ago | from the everyone-loves-funding dept.

The Almighty Buck 19

aarondubrow (1866212) writes The "valley of death" is well-known to entrepreneurs — the lull between government funding for research and industry support for prototypes and products. To confront this problem, in 2013 the National Science Foundation created a new program called InTrans to extend the life of the most high-impact NSF-funded research and help great ideas transition from lab to practice. Today, in partnership with Intel, NSF announced the first InTrans award of $3 million to a team of researchers who are designing customizable, domain-specific computing technologies for use in healthcare. The work could lead to less exposure to dangerous radiation during x-rays by speeding up the computing side of medicine. It also could result in patient-specific cancer treatments.

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Could have picked a better field (0)

Anonymous Coward | 4 days ago | (#47478209)

Medical technology is exploding right now, they don't need government investment to grease the wheels.

Re:Could have picked a better field (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | 4 days ago | (#47478311)

But research funds are still low. [] There's been a big push to spend money on what the summary is talking about for about a decade. I'm wondering if the government spending money on moving stuff from the lab to the doctors office has simply convinced private industry they don't need to spend their own money to do that. I mean, people frustrated with "death valley" aside, I don't think we were previously ignoring valuable, profitable science go to waste anyway.

Re:Could have picked a better field (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | 4 days ago | (#47478567)

I'm wondering if the government spending money on moving stuff from the lab to the doctors office has simply convinced private industry they don't need to spend their own money to do that.

No. This is what VC money is for. The program described in TFA is just a way to funnel taxpayer dollars to the bad ideas that the VCs have rejected. Governments are horrible at picking winners, and tend to do so based on physical location (the right congressional district) and political connections, rather than merit. Government funding of basic research is sensible. Government welfare for corporations is not.

Communism is the only solution (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | 4 days ago | (#47478211)

Capitalism is dying, we need a planned economy under workers control. All power to the soviets!!!!

It needs to make its way into tablets.... (1)

caywen (942955) | 4 days ago | (#47478385)

Just so we can say we can take ideas from the Lab to the Fab to the Tab.

Re:It needs to make its way into tablets.... (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | 4 days ago | (#47478745)

I can't promise you anything,

but if you keep that up,

I feel strongly there's a tender offer for a Slashdot editorial position in your future.

Re:It needs to make its way into tablets.... (1)

caywen (942955) | 4 days ago | (#47478891)

I'm all about the deep insight.

danger will robinson (2)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | 4 days ago | (#47478429)

less exposure to dangerous radiation during x-rays

If that were an actual problem, this would be worthy of stating. Even the lesser used high exposure CT scans have miniscule exposure, well below any amount that has ever been actually observed to cause physical harm in a human.

Re:danger will robinson (1)

Anonymous Coward | 4 days ago | (#47478593)

Still, needing less time could bring other benefits, perhaps you can up the dose in a shorter time to give the same radiation to the person but kill the cancer cells quicker. I don't know, but improvements are always nice. I am sure they checked if the study would have any benefit and realistic chance of success before awarding money.

Re:danger will robinson (1)

Anonymous Coward | 4 days ago | (#47478939)

What about the radiographer, huddled in their little lead-glass cube? Or, since the effects of exposure to ionising radiation is cumulative, anyone who needs a lot of imaging done over a period of time?

Something that improves resolution, accuracy and/or reduces exposure sounds like a good deal for everyone involved. A single dose has never been an issue or we wouldn't use X-rays at all.

Re:danger will robinson (1)

Uecker (1842596) | 4 days ago | (#47479847)

Nonsense Radiation from CT is a serious concern. A single abdominal or chest CT corresponds to a dose of 5-10 mSv. The is especially a concern for children and in case of repeated scans. For example, see: []
"In the United States, of approximately 600,000 abdominal and head CT examinations annually performed in children under the age of 15 years, a rough estimate is that 500 of these individuals might ultimately die from cancer attributable to the CT radiation."

Re:danger will robinson (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | 4 days ago | (#47481243)

But those numbers come from statistical models based on high - end ultra conservative extrapolations from much higher dose exposures, not on actual cases of cancer induced by radiation exposure at these relatively lower levels. In reality, there has been no physical evidence that these impacts occur at anything close to this rate, even for the exposures you mentioned. There is nothing wrong with this "play it safe regardless" mentality in the medical community as long as it doesn't force unneeded costs. I agree keep doses as low as possible.

Re:danger will robinson (0)

Anonymous Coward | 3 days ago | (#47484265)

No, the dose in CT is so high that it approaches the level we have direct statistical evidence from atomic bomb survivors. At least for kids, there are studies confirming this for CT. So no, this is not an "ultra conservative extrapolation". A linear extrapolation to lower doses - although there is some discussion - would also not be "ultra conservative" but reflect our best understanding at this time.

Re:danger will robinson (1)

Uecker (1842596) | 3 days ago | (#47484319)

Comment is mine. Forgot to log in.

Re:danger will robinson (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | 3 days ago | (#47487115)

RE: "No, the dose in CT is so high that it approaches the level we have direct statistical evidence from atomic bomb survivors." It is quotes like this that confuse the issue. There are a range of exposures among A-Bomb survivors, from much higher than you'll ever get in a CT scan down to zero. But you won't find statistical evidence in enough resolution to make the conclusions for the lower dose range, as withing the CT scan range, with any certainty, so they just simply got conservative and decided to assume the damage probabilities will occur at a relatively linear rate with dose reduction. Remember, they really only guessed at people's actual exposure based on location, and while the methods were sound, there was margin of error from the start. In these types of studies, error margins are typically handled on the conservative side.

Fast forward to today, where there has been little impetus to challenge the assumptions. With all the CT scans performed, there is a huge statistical pool to pull real data from. But, since that data doesn't show any distinguishable increase in cancers (albeit a number of challenges to form control groups), the safe thing to do is what was done in the study your referenced, and that is to simply estimate based on dose received using the same old probability lines extrapolated decades ago but never actually corroborated with real data. Its not been seen as a problem because its much simpler to assume the worst and minimize exposure as much as is practical.

Bad name for a funding source (0)

Anonymous Coward | 4 days ago | (#47478905)

It can only give out NSF checks

Summary Title (0)

Anonymous Coward | 4 days ago | (#47478955)

omg like i so totes hope my *inatr takes off
then i can book a fab vacay to a villa
it would be epic XD lol
errbody will be like so jelly for realz
i'd have to invite the gang tho natch

Sound like something an annoying faggot would say?

Stop talking like that.

Can we stop pandering to Ricki Lake fans? (1)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | 4 days ago | (#47479221)

Silly bullshit rhyming in the headline detracts from the actual story. Stop that.

BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | 4 days ago | (#47480115)

How are you taking ideas "out of the lab" when all the people doing the work (and generating IP, overhead funding, experience, etc.) are at universities?

Universities are great, but they're not going to have a real incentive (i.e. debt, real employees, investors) to generate commercial products and turn a profit. The lead organization, the people doing the teambuilding, networking and figuring out what works and what doesn't, needs to be incentivized to do more than just look for the next grant!

Here's a specific example of why this project should have been spun off to industry: This is a medical device (if a doctor uses a tool to decide how to treat a patient, that tool is a medical device). To be marketed in the USA, it needs FDA approval. The requirements for FDA approval for medical devices start at the design phase. Some universities have taken projects through FDA approval. UCLA is the lead here and they've never done that; there's no discussion of regulatory approval at the NSF site (when DARPA develops medical devices, they usually brag about FDA involvement). That's fine for a research project. If this was a commercial product, they'd be setting themselves up for failure.

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