Crowdsourcing a cure for my brain cancer

November 1, 2012

Artist Patrick Lichty used Iaconesi’s MRI data to make a 3D model of his brain tumor and posted it on the website Thingiverse. So now anyone with a 3D printer and an Internet connection can reproduce it. Thanks to Lichty, Iaconesi’s tumor also exists in the virtual world Second Life. (Credit: Patrick Lichty/Thingiverse)

Digital artist Salvatore Iaconesi, an engineer, artist, hacker and 2012 TED fellow who teaches interaction and digital design at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, hacked his medical records to put them online on his site in a global search for the best treatments, New Scientist reports.

 What happened?

It’s been incredible. I have been able to become an expert in neurosurgery and neurology. Through this kind of complete openness, I could access thousands of people who have provided me with their knowledge, their skills, their testimonies, their life experiences. Roughly 60 neurologists, neurosurgeons and radiologists contacted me suggesting techniques for surgery and for treatment. They are even talking to each other.

Scans of your brain have inspired you and other artists in many ways. Tell me more.
There are lots of things going on: poems, texts, narratives. An electronic music collective in Palermo, Italy, did a performance with images of my cancer as their visuals. There is this wonderful American artist, Patrick Lichty, who built a sculpture of my brain and tumor in Second Life.