PhD Students create Microscope: Biomedical Imaging Made Better

In the past year, an up-and-coming startup called, Microscape, was founded by a group of USC doctorate students with the vision of creating a cloud based image portal for researchers to share, discover and distribute biomedical images in a fast and easy way. Founded by John Paul Francis, a second year computer science PhD student, adjunct research faculty, Francesco Cutrale, and Kyle McClary, a second year Phd student studying chemistry. The startup was recently awarded a micro grant from the Arts and Science Alliance, and was founded as part of a grant competition focused on communicating scientific discoveries to the public. In the status quo, labs all over the world take images of biomedical samples like stem cells, cancer cells for research, and academic purposes.

Francis said, “On our team, we definitely want business and life science experience and we also look for people with a competency in cloud levels and graphics design.”

With Microscape, there is a significant difference in terms of the technology by becoming cloud-based. With cloud-based technology, labs will no longer need an extremely powerful computer with terabytes of storage to show the images. As such, the new technology would be cheaper at around $330-$600 dollars a month for a gross total of $3000 a year.

“The big problem with this is in regards to viewing, distributing and communicating these images to the public” says Francis. “The current software server costs $60,000 at the start and over $6000 a year to maintain.”

The organization, which is based in Los Angeles, has not started selling publicly, but they have already begun beta-testing in local labs with positive results. In USC alone, over $900 million is spent every year on research software and instrument, and for many people the biggest defining advantage is being able to consolidate information through a cloud-based server which enables easy communication to people who aren’t in the field of life sciences.

In the near future, Microscape plans to apply for more seed capital and acquire more contracts for its cloud based application software.

“I think we’ve been slow to enter into the market” says Francis. “In our last year, half of the time was spent on development. Back then, there were several opportunites to try to go directly to market with what we have and win contracts with labs but we hesitated.”