Space robot turned cancer-detector nets Mac prof a NASA award

A McMaster professor won an award for his part in developing an automated robot used for detecting the early stages of breast cancer.

International Space Station recognizes Mehran Anvari for a robot named IGAR

Mac professor Mehran Anvari (second from left) at the ISS Research and Development Innovation Awards. (Centre for Surgical Invention & Innovation)

A McMaster University professor won an award for his part in developing an automated robot used for detecting the early stages of breast cancer.

Dr. Mehran Anvari, surgical professor and chief executive officer of the Centre for Surgical Invention and Innovation in Hamilton, was presented with an award from NASA for innovation in biology and medicine for his work with IGAR, the lesion-detecting robot.

IGAR, or image-guided automated robot, originates from the International Space Station, where the technology was used in robotic arms providing space shuttle maintenance.

Anvari and his team took the technology and applied it in the field of medicine, using the robot to detect cancerous growths.

IGAR is fitted on patient beds and works in combination with MRI scanners to find lesions. The robot simplifies the manoeuvres involved in the MRI process, thus improving the flow of patients in and out of the department, a press release said.

ISS chief program scientist Julie Robinson presented Anvari with the award. During the ceremony, she described his work as "sort of the Terminator of the space station because it began with the robotic arms that assembled the space station ... but it soon came back to earth and has led to a number of robotics applications."

This latest is near and dear to many people's hearts in this room," she continued.

Here's Anvari's award presentation in its entirety, introduced by Robinson:

"This is a nice recognition of almost 20 years of work," Anvari said in the release. "It recognizes an incredible team of talented people including engineers, technicians, doctors and astronauts who have helped develop this technology."

To watch the rest of the ceremony, including the complete list of award winners, click here.


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