Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Siva Teja Kakileti: The scientist bringing machine learning to breast cancer detection

Niramai Health Analytix has developed an automated, affordable, non-invasive, radiation-free and privacy-aware test for early detection of breast cancer, and Kakileti played a key role in the IP creation for the company

Manu Balachandran
Published: Feb 15, 2023 12:22:06 PM IST
Updated: Feb 15, 2023 12:34:29 PM IST

Siva Teja Kakileti: The scientist bringing machine learning to breast cancer detectionSiva Teja Kakileti Image: Selvaprakash Lakshmanan for Forbes India; Hair and makeup: Glow up diaries; outfit: H.O.T.S MAN; Stylist: Vaybhav Acharya

Siva Teja Kakileti | 28
Principal research scientist and director, Niramai

 
As a young budding scientist at the Xerox Research Centre in Bengaluru, soon after he graduated from IIT Guwahati, Siva Teja Kakileti began working with computer scientist Geetha Manjunath.

Manjunath had recently lost a relative to breast cancer and she was trying to find a way to detect this disease.

While they began work at the Xerox Research Centre, it soon wound down only for Manjunath to start Niramai Health Analytix, a startup that provides screening solution to detect early breast cancer.

Kakileti joined Manjunath as a founding team member and is today the principal research scientist leading machine learning activities at the company.

Kakileti has a PhD from the Maastricht University in Netherlands, where his thesis focussed on machine learning for breast cancer diagnosis in developing countries. Kakileti finished his PhD in two years.

The 28-year-old is credited as a co-inventor of 24 patent grants, apart from being one of the directors of Niramai Health Analytix. The company has developed an automated, affordable, non-invasive, and radiation-free and privacy-aware test for early detection of breast cancer.  Kakileti also played a key role in the IP creation for Niramai.

“Women are uncomfortable being touched even for screening and the advantage that we have is that ours is a non-invasive way of detecting breast cancer,” Kakileti tells Forbes India.

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“What we use is thermal imaging, like we have in airports, to understand temperature variation.” The company uses cameras and patients are made to sit on a rotating stool that is operated from outside.

Niramai’s technology interprets the raw temperature values, which doctors can then use and identify lesions in the body. Niramai, which in Sanskrit means health for everyone, is also an abbreviation for Non Invasive Risk Assessment with Machine and Artificial Intelligence.

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“The technology has a massive role to play in rural parts of the country where hand examination still exists,” Kakileti says. “Our technology is portable and we can expand this into newer areas of cancer research over the coming years.”

India reports over 1,78,000 new cases of breast cancer a year, which is the most common cancer in Indian women, followed by cervical cancer. In 2020, there were 2.3 million women diagnosed with breast cancer and 685, 000 deaths globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Siva Teja Kakileti: The scientist bringing machine learning to breast cancer detection

Niramai currently focusses on two categories. The company works with NGOs and government bodies for breast cancer screening-related programmes as part of its screening service solution. In addition, its enterprise products provide solutions for diagnostics centres and hospitals, where it deploys its Thermalytix solution in exchange for a fee.

“Siva has been a key pillar of Niramai, enabling us to achieve high levels of accuracy with innovative methods,” says Manjunath, founder and CEO of Niramai Health Analytix. “What stands out for us is the fact that he is also very humble and modest, and has a genuine interest in seeing the social impact of technology.”