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Health & Wellness + Science & Tech

A Red-Letter Day

Roberto Reif is ready to test drive his cancer-screening device


Roberto Reif (ENG’08) (from left), David Spenciner (GSM’09), Jonathan Rosen, executive director of ITEC, Jonathan Scherer (GSM’08), and Adam Winston (GSM’08). Photo by Linda Haas

Roberto Reif (ENG’08) had a busy day earlier this month. First, he defended his doctoral thesis, then he competed in the 2008 ITEC $50K Business Plan Competition — and won.

“It was pretty crazy, having both at once,” says Reif, who had to rush from his dissertation defense to the competition, which is sponsored annually by the Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (ITEC). “I was worried I was going to get hit by a bus the next day.”

ITEC, centered at the School of Management, is an educational resource for the entire University as well as the local, national, and international communities, providing a full range of education, training, mentoring, and networking programs and opportunities that support new entrepreneurs. For the annual competition, Reif presented a plan for Essense Medical, his proposed business incorporating a patented optical biopsy sensor, which can identify cancerous tissues noninvasively by using light, thereby allowing doctors to pinpoint the area for treatment.

Reif says that while the other teams were good, the judges said that his realistic business projections and working prototype provided the boost to win. The other members of the winning team, David Spenciner (GSM’09), Jonathan Scherer (GSM’08), and Adam Winston (GSM’08), are MBA students.

“I think this concept is going to revolutionize the way we deal with the health-care system we have right now,” says Reif, who wants to get the company off the ground soon and is interviewing CEO candidates. “We want to have early cancer diagnosis and treatment.”

Reif says that once he has the $32 million in funding needed to launch Essense Medical, he can make his cancer-screening device functional in the health-care industry.

For more information, contact Reif at robreif@bu.edu.

Kimberly Cornuelle can be reached at kcornuel@bu.edu.

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