Marek Elbaum, M.D., 1998 Christopher Columbus Foundation Award

Written by on June 10, 1998 in 1998, Christopher Columbus Foundation Award, Researcher

Marek Elbaum

Marek Elbaum, M.D.

Electro-Optical Sciences, Inc.
Irvington, NY


Dr. Marek Elbaum was the recipient of the 1998 $100,000 Christopher Columbus Foundation Award for the development of an imaging system, MelaFind™ for the early detection of melanoma.

Melanoma is the deadliest of skin cancers and its frequency is rapidly increasing worldwide. In the United States, the four percent per annum rate of increase for melanoma is the highest among all cancers, including breast and lung cancers. The chance that an American will develop melanoma is 1:75 (up from 1:250 in 1980) with 44,000 new cases and 7,300 fatalities in 1998. Four million Americans are in the high-risk category and should be examined at least once a year. When melanoma is diagnosed and excised early, the chance of complete recovery is close to 100 percent. However, physicians do not have tools for reliably differentiating early melanoma from benign look-alike lesions. Their diagnostic accuracy is low and does not exceed 63 percent, even for the top skin cancer specialists. This results in excessive biopsies of lesions (10:1 and higher) leading to pain and discomfort to patients.

MelaFind™ uses machine vision for reliable automatic diagnosis of early melanoma. In a test on 250 patients at three clinical centers, MelaFind™ correctly identified early melanoma 68 out of 69 times (98 percent sensitivity) and it correctly identified benign lesions 134 out of 158 times (specificity 85 percent, 15 percent false positives.)

“The Christopher Columbus Foundation Award generated a great deal of publicity and enthusiasm for our research efforts,” stated Dr. Elbaum. “Prior to this, our work was known only to a small research community dedicated to the development of new diagnostic methods for melanoma detection. The Award brought our work to the attention of a much larger medical audience and furthered public awareness of the ‘melanoma problem’ and the lack of reliable diagnostic tools for early detection of this deadly disease. We continue our efforts to ensure that our invention will quickly find its way into the hands of practicing physicians as the first practical diagnostic instrument for significantly reducing the number of melanoma deaths.”

The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation is honored to have had the assistance of the following distinguished individuals serving on the Christopher Columbus Foundation Award Evaluation Committee:

Automotive and Transportation:
Craig Breedlove, Five-time Land-Speed Record Holder, Rio Vista, CA
Lester A. Hoel, Ph.D., Hamilton Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Joe Lorio, Senior Editor, Automobile Magazine, Ann Arbor, MI

Aviation and Aerospace:
Captain Jon A. McBride, (USN, Retired), Cambridge Associates, Ltd., Charleston, WV
Ron Sega, Ph.D., Dean of Engineering at Applied Science, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, CO
Richard L. Young, Builder and Pilot of Wright Brothers Aircraft Replica, Richmond, VA

Computer Hardware and Electronics:
Marc A. Auslander, IBM Fellow, IBM Thomas J. Watson Resource Center, Yorktown Heights, NY
Samuel H. Fuller, Ph.D., Chief Scientist and Vice President, Corporate Technological Strategy & Service, Digital Equipment Corporation, Maynard, MA
Venkatesh Narayanamurti, Ph.D., Dean of Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA

Computer Software:
Dwight M. Harris, Ph.D., Professor of Physics/Technology, Fairmont State College, Fairmont, WV
Rocco Martino, Ph.D., Chairman of the Board, XRT, Inc., Wayne, PA
Marvin Moody, Hill, Steadman & Simpson, Chicago, IL

Emerging Technology:
Michael Gottesman, M.D., Deputy Director, Intermural Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
Jerome P. Kassirer, M.D., Editor-in-Chief, New England Journal of Medicine, Boston, MA
Donna Marie Werner, Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto, New York, NY

Michael Guillen, Science Correspondent, Good Morning America, New York, NY
Stephen A. Lingle, Director, Environmental Engineering Research Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC
William Rutherford, Forest Park Foundation, Peoria, IL

Hadi A. Abu-Akeel, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Engineer, FANUC Robotics NA, Inc., Rochester Mills, MN
George A. Bekey, Ph.D., Gordon Marshall Professor of Computer Science and Director, Robotics, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Joseph Engelberger, Chairman, Helpmate Robotics, Inc., Danbury, CT

Kris K. Burhardt, V.P. of Technology Development, Imation Corporation, Oakdale, MN
Lori Gemondo, Owner, Pearle Vision, Bridgeport, WV
Sam Gil, Communications Manager, Tasco, Miramar, FL

Eva Franchi, President, Sergio Franchi Music Scholarship, Stonington, CT
Kenneth D. Jacob, Director of Professional Products, Bose Corp., Framingham, MA
John A. Kleppe, Ph.D., Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno, NV


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