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RadX Innovation Challenge pitch evolves into global health nonprofit

Sep. 12, 2019, 8:57 AM

Benjamin Li, MD, MBA, pitches Rayos Contra Cancer at the Department of Radiology's RadX Innovation Challenge in 2017.
Benjamin Li, MD, MBA, pitches Rayos Contra Cancer at the Department of Radiology’s RadX Innovation Challenge in 2017. (photo by Joe Howell)

by Krystyna Barnard

With momentum from the Department of Radiology’s innovation incubator, RadX, a recent Vanderbilt University School of Medicine alumnus has successfully launched a global health nonprofit organization.

RadX was designed to foster and support the development and commercialization of creative health care technology solutions.

Benjamin Li, MD’17, MBA’17, currently a second-year resident in radiation oncology at UCSF in San Francisco, recently founded Rayos Contra Cancer, Inc. (RCC) to “promote sustainable access to high-quality, timely and affordable radiotherapy for cancer in limited-resource settings globally.”

The idea for RCC was first pitched at the Department of Radiology’s RadX Innovation Challenge in spring 2017. Since then, Li says the organization has grown, matured and gained fundamental traction.

“RadX helped me turn it from an idea, into a project, into a proposal with a name, vision and mission,” said Li. “We have so much success to be grateful for thanks to good, supportive early mentorship and those who believed in our idea.”

RCC has close partnerships in Latin America with public and private centers to foster education, training, innovative research and clinical improvements for cancer care clinicians in limited-resource settings. It conducts academic-industry-clinic collaborations to provide links between high- and low-middle-income countries. It then scales these successes to benefit countries worldwide.

Brent Savoie, MD, JD, assistant professor of Radiology and founder of Guatemalan community health program Primeros Pasos, served as RCC’s primary project advisor during the Innovation Challenge. He now sits on the organization’s board of advisors.

Reed Omary, MD, MS, Carol D. and Henry P. Pendergrass Professor and chair of the Department of Radiology, and former Vice Chair of Innovation, Rick Abramson, MD, also provided mentorship and insight to support the formation of RCC.

After establishing a multinational board of directors and diversified network, RCC officially launched at the end of 2018. RCC has activities spanning 19 countries and 40 clinics in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

RCC leads medical physics training in radiation oncology for cancer centers that assist clinics with little or no prior experience to deliver efficient, high-quality treatments.

Li envisions these programs providing improvement not only for patients, but for national economies.

“If you help the centers that are treating all the cancer patients in the country, you are helping the country,” says Li.

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