The Crazy Turkish Girl; She is Going to Focus on Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Breast Cancer


She lost her grandfather to heart failure when she was 5. Canan Dağdeviren had a dream at that young age. She is going to find a cure for heart diseases when she grows up. She made her dream come true when she was 28, by her project on wearable heart battery. MIT Media Lab Lecturer and Assistant Professor Canan Dağdeviren is a closely monitored scientist of the whole world today by her innovative projects like skin cancer detecting sensor, brain needle and digestible sensor…

She chased a dream and became a physicist
32 today, MIT Media Lab Lecturer and Assistant Professor Canan Dağdeviren succeded a lot in her 12 years of career. Named to “30 Under 30” Scientists List of Forbes, Dağdeviren was the first Turkish to be chosen to the Youth Academy of the Harvard University. Listed in the MIT Technology Review’s “Innovators Under 35” and earned Science & SciLifeLab prize in medicine, called “Youth Nobel”, Dağdeviren, lastly in October 2017, was the first scientist of Turkey to be chosen for the Delegation of Innovation and Technology within the body of American Academy of Achievement.

Developed projects like wearable heart battery, cancer detecting tattoo-like sensor, brain needle, Dağdeviren is known as “Mevlana of Science” and “the Crazy Turkish Girl” in the science world.

When she got into the Physics Engineering Department of the Hacettepe University, everybody, except her mum, believed that this career will make her unhappy. However, Dağdeviren chased a dream and became successful against everybody. “My lecturers told me that I can’t be a physicist and my dreams are impossible. Maybe, they were right. Because I am not a true physicist. By combining physics, medicine, chemistry, biology, electric-electronic and mechanic, I develop projects that lead innovations and put them into practice with my teammates.” says Canan Dağdeviren.

Designs devices that are 100 times thinner than hair
After Physics Engineering, she continued her career with master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering at Sabancı University. In 2009, with the Fulbright doctorate scholarship, she started her PhD in Materials Science and Engineering Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Here, she studied on heart battery, body-soluble and blood pressure measurer sensors and skin cancer detecting devices.

Making her post-PhD researches at MIT since 2014, Dağdeviren started her brain needle studies here. Carrying on her projects within MIT Media Lab as Assistant Professor since 2017, Dağdeviren says that she designs multi-functional, sensitive and colorful devices, like woman. Expressing that working at this new lab which has been realized with 5 million dollars of investment within MIT Media Lab is her biggest dream ever, Dağdeviren comments; “A unique lab has been built. Here, as a team of 7, we have been working on electronical devices that are 100 times thinner than hair. We can place these devices inside brain, heart or stomach. I attach great importance to the digestion in three organs: Brain, heart and stomach. Digesting knowledge in brain, digesting compassion and love in heart and digesting the things we eat in stomach are very important. The one who digests in these three organs can do everything.”

She is going to study on a project special to astronauts
Mentioning that she is going to focus on announcing the brain needle that will accelerate the process of diagnosing and treating the diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and the projects like the electronical bra that will make the diagnose of breast cancer, in the first half of 2018, Canan Dağdeviren gives these details about her new projects: “The devices I made can be stuck on your body, implanted inside your brain or swallowed. And they can transfer all the changes in your body to doctors by an interface. The things can be done in this area are limitless. By using these materials, you can design a band that can be stuck on your heart; a sensor that can be worn under your shoes; a platform that are a piece of your underwear, skirt or trousers and when you move in your daily life, it can transform mechanical energy into electronical one that can be used in different fields. I work on digestible and swallowable sensors right now. In medium and long terms, interfaces that connects human and computer oriented two systems and the wearable devices will be much more effective. My biggest dream, though, is to put different projects about the space into practice. I am going to work on wearable and implantable different projects for astronauts.”