Israeli professor whose technology can diagnose cancer by sensing breath earns int'l honors

“Precisely because I am not a doctor, I was able to conceive such a unique development – an inexpensive and noninvasive system for diagnosing diseases based on breath,” Technion researcher says.

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March 21, 2016 11:40
2 minute read.
Hossam Haick

Prof. Hossam Haick of Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology‏. (photo credit: TECHNION)

 
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Prof. Hossam Haick of Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology received the Humboldt Research Award in Germany and was also chosen as one of the 100 influential figures published by California’s Good Magazine over the weekend. He has been prominent, among other things in his development of devices to diagnose and monitor various types of cancers (lung, breast, colon, gastric, head and neck, ovarian, kidney and bladder malignancies) via breath samples.

The Humboldt Award is given to prominent researchers who have significantly influenced their fields of study, provided they maintain some type of cooperation with research institutes in Germany. It is granted in recognition of a researcher’s achievements as a whole – discoveries, theories, and insights.

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The 41-year-old Haick, born into an Arab Christian family in Nazareth and a member of the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering and a member of the Technion’s Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute, received the award for his “tremendous contribution to the diagnosis of diseases through innovative markers that he discovered in his research at Technion.”

These are markers that are present in both the breath and skin.

Haick received his bachelor of science and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from the Ben-Gurion University and the Technion. After a two-year period at the Weizmann Institute of Science, he went to the California Institute of Technology – Caltech for postdoctoral research and returned to the Technion as an assistant professor in 2006.

Good Magazine’s 100 list includes people from 37 countries who contribute to the welfare of humankind in various aspects, including science, education, and business. What they all have in common, according to the list’s compilers, is that they are figures “who spearhead change and refuse to accept the existing reality as the end of the story. Not one of the 100 people we have chosen operates out of a desire for fame – which is precisely why it is important to recognize their activity.”

Haick earned his doctorate in the field of energy and only later switched to biomedical technology. “Precisely because I am not a doctor, I was able to conceive such a unique development – an inexpensive and noninvasive system for diagnosing diseases based on breath,” he said. “Inspired by dogs, who know how to identify disease but not to tell the person what disease he has, I developed this digital system that accurately diagnoses the disease and its stage of development. Today, we are working on several aspects of the system, including diagnosis of additional diseases and an interface that connects it to a smartphone.”

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