From Inspiration to Reality: How a Smartphone Test for Male Infertility Took Shape

The idea came to Hadi Shafiee, PhD: what if you could use a cell phone to test for male infertility from the comfort of your own home? Shafiee’s lab at BWH focuses on developing technologies that use micro and nano-fabrication – devices with dimensions less than a millionth of a millimeter. The team has developed tools with applications in medicine and biology including point-of-care diagnostics for global health. But they had never developed something to test for infertility. To bring his inspiration from idea to reality, Shafiee would need the help of many experts outside of his lab.

“My job is to try to understand some of the problems patients and physicians face in the clinic and try to come up with solutions for them,” said Shafiee, of the Division of Engineering in Medicine and Renal Division. “I was excited about the potential of using the advancements in consumer electronics and microfabrication techniques to make it possible to test for male infertility at home, but I wasn’t sure if this idea could be commercialized or how to refine it. The Brigham Innovation Hub team listened to my idea. They connected me to the right people at the right time and gave me pilot funding to develop a proof of concept. They were instrumental.”

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