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Basil Harris

Merging Medicine, Engineering, and Design to Revolutionize Digital Healthcare


In an episode of the 1960s science fiction series Star Trek, Dr. McCoy utters one of his famous catchphrases: “I’m a doctor, not an engineer!” Basil Harris, MD ’02, PhD, happens to be both, which gave him an advantage in bringing McCoy’s “medical tricorder”—a portable diagnostic device—from television to reality.

In January 2012, XPRIZE and Qualcomm announced a global competition to develop a handheld consumer device that enables people to “make their own reliable health diagnoses anywhere, anytime.” When Harris heard about it a year later, he realized that such a device would have to replicate what he does as an emergency medical physician.

“We have to make these quick decisions. We have to make diagnoses with quick streams of basic information,” he says.

Harris has a master’s degree in structural engineering from Drexel and a PhD in engineering from Cornell, where he became interested in bioengineering and modeling medical systems. That led him to SKMC, where he worked on biomechanics with Alexander Vaccaro, MD, PhD, MBA, and Alan Hilbrand, MD, at the Rothman Institute. After graduation, Harris completed a residency at Jefferson in emergency medicine and has worked in the Lankenau Medical Center emergency department since.

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Clinical OMICS NOV-DEC 2017

Point–of–Care Testing Revs Up

by Malorye Allison Branca 

A host of new technologies and tests are allowing faster diagnosis and improved patient care across a range of conditions 

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