The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MITThe David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

National Cancer Institute Cancer Center

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Accelerating Healthcare Solutions with David Lee

David Lee (1969) returned to MIT 40 years after graduation to develop solutions for cancer and sepsis. Hear his story at Tech Reunion 2019, June 7, 3-4:30 PM in the Koch Institute Auditorium.

They say you can’t go home again, but that’s not the case at MIT. Nearly 40 years after graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering, alumnus W. David Lee (1969) returned to campus with new ideas about how he might apply his talents and interests. The work he has done in the 15 years since will have a tremendous impact on the treatment of patients with sepsis, transplants, and several forms of cancer. More immediately, it’s the topic of a presentation he will give at the Koch Institute on June 7 as part of Tech Reunion 2019, to mark his 50th class reunion.

With faculty introductions from Koch Institute director Tyler Jacks, and the support and partnership of senior Koch Institute investigators, Lee initiated several collaborative projects at MIT. His microscale nuclear magnetic resonance invention spawned T2 Biosystems, where he was founding CEO. After entrusting the company to others, he began work on another project, funded through the Koch Institute Frontier Research Program, which led to the development of a second medical device and startup company. Lumicell is currently in late-stage oncology trials for a hand-held imaging device that highlights even single cancer cells left in surgical margins, helping physicians take action in real-time during surgeries to improve patient outcomes.

For Lee, MIT has made an everlasting impact on his life’s vision and career, helping him to think and approach problems as an engineer. Relying on “old school” skills he learned at MIT and Arthur D. Little, and applying his expertise to the healthcare industry, Lee found financial and regulatory support for his approach to mens et manus—developing innovative medical products.

Lee will share that approach—of starting from first principles in physics/chemistry to create new designs and a new imaging agent—in his Tech Reunion presentation. Importantly, he notes, “None of this would have happened without the support of the Koch Institute and MIT, which have allowed me to begin a second career, found two businesses, and impact people’s lives for the better.”

Lee’s presentation, “Accelerating healthcare solutions: Re-engaging in technology at MIT 40 years post-graduation,” will be held Friday, June 7, 3-4:30 PM in the Koch Institute Auditorium. MIT alumni and Tech Reunion attendees are invited to attend; questions regarding the event or registration may be directed to 617.253.3936 or