Freddy T. Nguyen, MD, PhD

Research Fellow @ Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Transfusion Medicine Fellow @ Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

Grass-roots entrepreneurship complements traditional top-down innovation in lung and breast cancer

Khalil B. Ramadi, Rhea Mehta, David He, Sichen Chao, Zen Chu, Rifat Atun, Freddy T. Nguyen. npj Digital Medicine 2022-01-21

Full Text
The majority of biomedical research is funded by public, governmental, and philanthropic grants. These initiatives often shape the avenues and scope of research across disease areas. However, the prioritization of disease-specific funding is not always reflective of the health and social burden of each disease. We identify a prioritization disparity between lung and breast cancers, whereby lung cancer contributes to a substantially higher socioeconomic cost on society yet receives significantly less funding than breast cancer. Using search engine results and natural language processing (NLP) of Twitter tweets, we show that this disparity correlates with enhanced public awareness and positive sentiment for breast cancer. Interestingly, disease-specific venture activity does not correlate with funding or public opinion. We use outcomes from recent early-stage innovation events focused on lung cancer to highlight the complementary mechanism by which bottom-up “grass-roots” initiatives can identify and tackle under-prioritized conditions.

Khalil Ramadi

Rhea Mehta

David He

Sichen Chao

Zen Chu

Rifat Atun

Freddy Nguyen


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Physician-scientist with extensive experience developing and translating nanotechnologies and biomedical optical technologies from the bench to clinic in areas of genetics, oncology, and cardiovascular diseases. Extensive leadership experience in community building in healthcare innovation, research, medical, and physician-scientist communities.

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