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Meet Dr Samuel Achilefu, Award-Winning Nigerian scientist and inventor of ‘cancer goggles’

2 min read

Nigerian scientist and inventor, Dr Samuel Achilefu, in 2014, broke a new ground in surgical treatments of cancer by inventing cancer-visualising glasses, now commonly known as ‘cancer goggles’.

What do you know about him?

Dr samuel achilefu


It was an inscription his father left on the wall of their home when Dr Samuel Achilefu was only 5 years-old that spurred him to achieve great heights:

“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost. But when name is lost, everything is lost“.

Achilefu translated this to mean that “one should be above reproach, that a good name trumps ill-gotten wealth. It set a moral standard that we should follow in life.”

One can understand how this maxim led to him being the brains behind a device that could help transform thousands of cancer sufferers around the globe, into cancer survivors.


In 2014, Samuel received the prestigious St. Louis Award for creating and developing a set of high-tech cancer-visualizing goggles with the aim of helping surgeons see cancer cells in real-time while operating on patients

Dr samuel achilefu
Dr Achilefu demonstrating the use of the eyewear. Photo: BBC

The goggles are designed to make it easier for surgeons to distinguish malignant cells from healthy cells, helping to ensure that no stray tumour cells are left behind during a surgery to remove a cancerous tumour.

The glasses also reduces the need for additional surgical procedures and the subsequent stress on patients, as well as time and expense.

The invention uses custom video technology, a head-mounted display and a targeted molecular display that attaches itself to cancer cells, giving them a ‘glow’ when viewed through the eye gear.

“A limitation of surgery is that it’s not always clear to the naked eye the distinction between normal tissue and cancerous tissue,”

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“With the glasses developed by Dr. Achilefu, we can better identify the tissue that must be removed.” Ryan Fields, MD, an assistant professor of surgery.

Currently, Dr samuel achilefu is an associate Professor of Radiology, Division of Radiological Sciences at the Washington University School of Medicine.

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