When a Picture Is Worth a Life


Manage episode 218658725 series 1951941
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What if you found out your infant had eye cancer? That news would rock anyone’s world. But what if you had a tool that helped you catch it early enough that your baby didn’t have to lose his or her eye and didn’t have to go through chemo? You’d probably do almost anything to get it. Bryan Shaw has dedicated his time to helping parents detect this cancer sooner so their children don't have to go through what his son went through—and he’s doing it for free. With computer scientists from Baylor University, he's harnessed the power of a machine learning algorithm to detect cancer that no human eye can detect. Below is a partial transcript. For the full interview, listen to the podcast episode by selecting the Play button above or by selecting this link or you can also listen to the podcast through iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and Overcast. Bryan Shaw: “The very first person who ever contacted me because our app helped them was a gentleman in Washington State, and his little girl had myelin retinal nerve fiber layer, which is an abnormal myelination of the retina, and it can cause blindness, but it presents with white eye. And his little girl was five years old, and he kept seeing white-eye pics. He heard our story. He downloaded our app. Our app detected the white-eye pics. That emboldened him enough to grill the child's doctor. You know, 'My camera's telling me this. Look, this app. I heard this story . . .’ The doctor takes a close look. The girl had been 75 percent blind in one of her eyes for years, and nobody had ever caught it.” Ginette: “I’m Ginette.” Curtis: “And I’m Curtis.” Ginette: “And you are listening to Data Crunch.” Curtis: “A podcast about how data and prediction shape our world.” Ginette: “A Vault Analytics production.” Curtis: “Data Crunch is again brought to you by data.world, the social network for data people. Discover and share cool data, connect with interesting people, and work together to solve problems faster at data.world. Did you know that you can add files via URL to your data sets on data.world? Data.world APIs allow you to pull live survey data into your data set, enable automatic file updates, and more. Get the full details on data.world APIs at docs.data.world, or search ‘Austin Cycling Survey’ on data.world to see live survey sync in action in Rafael Pereira's data set!” Ginette: “One quick reminder that our data competition is currently up on data.world. Be sure to post your submissions by May 5. “Okay, now back to the story. If you know someone who’s about to have a child, has a child five or under, or plans to have children, you need to send them this episode, and you’re about to find out why from this man, Bryan Shaw.” Bryan: “When Noah was three-months-old, we started noticing that a lot of his pictures had white pupillary reflections, what doctors call leukocoria, white core, white pupil, and that can be a symptom of a lot of different eye diseases.” Ginette: “You probably put this together, but Noah is Bryan’s son. And to add in Noah’s mom’s perspective here, when she started noticing this strange white reflection in Noah’s eyes, like most moms today, she aggressively searched the Internet for answers. Like Bryan said, leukocoria could indicate a disease, or it could indicate nothing, but the Shaws decided they needed to tell their pediatrician about what they’d found.” Bryan: “Noah passed all his red reflex tests, until we told his pediatrician that we noticed leukocoria, and he had a very good pediatrician—Pearl Riney, Cambridge, Massachusetts. And then she really looked really, really closely. And on that test, she noticed a white pupillary reflection and immediately sent us that afternoon to an opthamologist.” Ginette: “At this point, Bryan’s wife, Elizabeth, was freaking out because she’d done all the research about leukocoria, or white eye, and she knew what white eye might mean for their four-month-old son.” Bryan: “In Noah's case,

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