Did you know that 99% of cancer drugs never make it to the tumour? We're shooting in the dark with chemo laced bullets.
The Alex Memorial Fund is all about that (bitter)sweet spot between cancer, medicine and engineering (med-tech). We’re raising money to help make progress in med-tech, the discipline that Alex Blain would have helped shape had he lived. To honour Alex's dream and finish what that bold and brilliant engineer started, we're teaming up with a university to contribute to research in med-tech. The Alex fund has 2 main objectives, 1) to fund nanorobotics research in medicine, and 2) to support med-tech engineering at Alex's University, Swinburne.
Help us raise $135,000 to fund a PhD scholarship to support research in med-tech.
We are talking with universities and clinicians to find the right med-tech research opportunity to support, but at the top of Alex's wishlist was nanorobotics in cancer applications. Give it a google, it’s game-changing. It's a technologically advanced, combined area of engineering and medical research with huge potential to reshape how we detect and understand the cancer profile of individual patients, and, how we classify, target and kill cancerous cells (think: tiny cancer hunting attack drones). Alex began studying this bioengineering field in between chemo appointments (yeah...what?). It was his wish that if he couldn’t personally contribute to the field, that his story would inspire other engineers to do so.
Why are we doing this?
Alex’s university friends and family are determined to honour Alex Blain’s commitment to engineering and scientific progress. He was always meant to leave a mark. He aimed high and never lowered his sights to anything short of perfection. His love for science, engineering, history and philosophy was a melting pot of potential. That concoction certainly helped his uni friends; his generosity got more than a few engineering degrees over the line and inspired a love of the craft, so it’s with great determination that his university friends are driving this initiative to sustain his legacy for learning as a small ‘thank you’ to Alex.
Alex with Dexter (their drone) and friends Harry Bennett and Darren Benecke, 2019
What the hell happened?
After fighting cancer for more than a year, Alex passed away on January 5th, 2021.
He learnt that he had a rare, aggressive and high-mortality rate cancer days after his final exam in 2019. Instead of celebrating the completion of a Bachelor of Engineering (Robotics and Mechatronics Engineering) (Honours) with a High Distinction, he was embarking on what would be 19 rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgeries.
He breathed engineering and lived to help
Alex excelled in every subject. If you needed help with a complex concept, you could reliably find him in one of his favourite study nooks. He would drop everything to help, driven by pure passion for the subject and a love of learning. It was incredibly infectious, so he and his friends would often end up burning the midnight oil together. He epitomised the Swinburne mission of “increasing the facility of education to all”.
His talent and interest in control theory – one of the more advanced areas of engineering – led him to embark on a Department of Defence sponsored project: applying control theory to assist drones flying autonomously in different weather conditions. Impressive, yes, but shockingly this pales in comparison to the drive he somehow conjured to study Nanorobotics in between chemo appointments.
Thank you for reading this far. Thank you for contributing to his legacy.
“Genius can be supplemented with hard work and hard work can be supplemented by coffee” Alexander Blain
Sources + Videos on Nanotechnology in cancer that'll blow your mind
TED talk: How nanoparticles could change the way we treat cancer | Joy Wolframon (source of heading stat) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6S3KTtcO5YI
World Economic Forum: Deploying nanorobotics for diagnosis and treatment | Simone Schuerle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28Ep-4tTjnM
Vikki Academy: When Nanobots Take on Cancer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euh1MQ_yLlQ
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