MIT Student Fighting Cancer in an Unusual Way

A doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a New England Council member, is taking full advantage of the resources Boston has to offer in learning more about his cancer diagnosis. Steven Keating was diagnosed with a brain tumor in August 2014 and since then has been sharing more about his treatment with the world on his website.

Steven Keating chose to “open-source” his illness which means he shares personal information about his health and treatments online. This allows people around the world to offer feedback and suggestions, and to learn more about his disease. Shortly after his diagnosis, Mr. Keating underwent a 10-hour surgery to remove his tumor. The surgery was performed by Dr. Ennio Chiocca, a neurosurgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital- also an NEC member- who Mr. Keating found through his MIT graduate advisor. At Mr. Keating’s request, Dr. Chiocca videotaped the procedure so it could be added to Mr. Keating’s website. After his surgery, Mr. Keating sought to better understand his illness. He 3-D printed a model of the tumor on his brain and had his genome sequenced to better understand the role genetics played in his disease. Mr. Keating has given lectures at MIT about his decision to open-source his illness and was invited to the White House in January to witness President Obama announce a new initiative on precision medicine based on patients’ genetics.

“The best place to fight cancer is MIT,” Keating said. David Bates, chief innovation officer at Brigham and Women’s said that how Mr. Keating fought and participated in his illness through open-sourcing could be indicative of the future. “This is a hint at where we could be going. The notion that patients with cancer would make the genetic sequences for their cancer publicly available is the kind of thing that could eventually lead us to new breakthroughs,” he said.

The New England Council applauds the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brigham and Women’s Hospital for helping Steven Keating and others learn more about fighting cancer.

Read more in the Boston Globe.

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