BrainSpec, Boston, MA
This summer I worked for BrainSpec Software, a biotech healthcare company that builds models from magnetic resonance spectroscopy brain scans and MRI images to aid in diagnosing Alzheimer’s, different forms of brain cancer, and other cerebrovascular diseases. My responsibilities ranged the full breadth of the company: preprocessing large datasets, FDA documentation, testing and debugging, and more. Because the company was small, I was able to quickly come up to speed and work effectively with the team despite having never met them in person.
I worked on a number of projects, the first of which was a full-stack feature which combined the international DICOM medical image standard with the automated BrainSpec report and both the frontend and backend sides of the company infrastructure. The feature helps physicians and clinicians utilize the software in the format they are most comfortable—on any MRI machine, patient portal, or scanner station. As this project combines many different frameworks and sides of the company, it took a few weeks to develop an initial prototype, and will be released with the next deployment. During the middle of the summer, I transitioned between smaller jobs, primarily dealing with massive datasets. While MRI scans are somewhat standardized, MRS scans are not and vary dramatically by vendor which makes dealing with large datasets tricky.
Towards the end of the summer I started and finished a very neat feature: axial reconstruction. Most MRI images are taken in the axial plane, the plane parallel to the ground when a person is standing upright. This allows physicians to see both hemispheres of the brain, and has better region coverage than either the coronal or sagittal planes. However, MRI scans are occasionally taken in the sagittal plane. My tool takes a series of sagittal slices and using some image manipulation techniques, reconstructed an axial series compatible with the software.
This summer was far and away my best working experience despite the complications of the coronavirus pandemic. I was able to work with a fantastic team whose knowledge spanned practically every scientific subject. I was able to develop a number of skills ranging from niche coding and healthcare-specific problems to broader skills such as working on a start-up team and quickly developing an understanding of a medical practice with an enormous biological and physics knowledge overhead. However, simply working on a team which is trying to make an inaccessible diagnostic method available to everyone was extremely rewarding. Working for a company which will directly and positively impact people’s lives made me very proud.
Thank you to Mr. McCalpin for making my work with BrainSpec possible, and to Dawn Dellea and the ’68 Center for organizing the ASIP program and supporting such exciting work. This summer has had such a tangible impact on my career, I am extremely appreciative for all the support.