133: Top 20 Countdown

Innovation City Top 20: Week 13

Welcome to Innovation City—powered by Venture Cafe—where Tyler Kelley and Michael Johnson, Co-Founders of SLAM! Agency, interview innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s episode is the thirteenth of several highlight shows where we are taking a look back at our top 20 favorite interviews and conversations of all time. Today’s featured guest is Samuel Achilefu, PhD, the Director of the Optical Radiology Laboratory at the Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Achilefu is a professor of Radiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics. He performs groundbreaking research in the field of cancer research, including the invention of cancer goggles, which were developed to help surgeons see and remove cancer in patients.

Some key points from Dr. Achilefu at Washington University School of Medicine:

  • Dr. Achilefu’s view that a PhD is just training that teaches you to think well; a starting point, not an end point
  • “Nothing is real until you make it so” and the importance of convincing other people to see and understand your solutions to problems
  • Nobody believed in cancer goggles when he first started
  • Making something from nothing
  • Innovation vs. Novelty
  • Innovation = taking something that exists and building on it to make it better.
  • Novelty = Taking something that doesn’t exist and making it real; creating something new
  • The end goal of visualizing cancer with the cancer goggles; being able to treat more patients faster while also increasing the effectiveness of the surgery
  • “It’s not failure until you give up”
  • No matter what you do there is an obstacle you have to overcome and if you can’t overcome the obstacle then it’s no fun.
  • Listen or watch Dr. Achilefu’s full episode here